Public Information Act Requests

Maryland's Public Information Act (MPIA), grants the public a right of access to some public records, while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy rights of individual citizens. The MPIA covers public agencies and officials in Maryland and includes all branches of state government (legislative, judicial and executive). 

The MPIA is similar in purpose to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Public Records

A public record is an original or copy of any documentary material in any form created or received by the department in connection with the transaction of public business. This includes:
  • Books
  • Computerized records
  • Drawings
  • Films
  • Maps
  • Microfilms
  • Photocopies
  • Photographs
  • Records
  • Tapes
  • Written materials

Submitting a MPIA Request

Anyone -- citizens, corporations, associations, public interest groups, private individuals and universities can submit a MPIA request.

To submit an MPIA request, please send an email to the County Executive's Office and your request will be directed to the appropriate County agency.

Public Record Access

The MPIA provides for access to most agency records. Certain records are privileged by law and must be withheld. Examples include, but are not limited to, records containing:
  • Attorney/client advice and attorney work product
  • Confidential commercial
  • Financial information
  • Medical records
  • Personnel records
  • Trade secrets

There are certain records that may fall within one of the exemptions in state law that allows the agency to withhold documents and redact information from documents.

Other records may be withheld. Examples include, but are not limited to, investigatory records and inter- and intra-agency memoranda and letters. If you are denied access to any records, you will be notified as to the specific statutory provisions for each exemption and for challenging the denial procedures.

Access to public records does not include access to information or documents that does not exist. The agency is not required to create a document in order to respond to a request. Additionally, pursuant to retention guidelines and schedules, if the document no longer exists/has been destroyed, the requestor will be notified.

Associated Fees

The custodian may charge reasonable fees for the search and preparation of records for inspection and copying. Search fees are the costs to an agency for locating requested records. Usually, this involves the costs of an employee's time spent in locating the requested records. preparation fees are the costs to an agency to prepare a record for inspection or copying, including the time needed to assess whether any provision of law permits or requires material to be withheld. The first two hours of search time is free, however, any additional time is subject to fees.

Search includes all time spent looking, both manually and electronically, for material that is responsive to a request. Search also includes a line-by-line or page-by-page identification (if necessary) of material in the record to determine if it or portions thereof are responsive to the request. Time spent reviewing documents in order to determine whether to apply a statutory exemption is not search time but review time.

Duplication refers to the process of making a copy of a document in response to a MPIA request. Such copies can take the form of paper copy, audiovisual, or machine-readable documentation (e.g., magnetic tape or disc) among others. Agencies usually provide copies in the same format as kept within the department unless otherwise specified by the requester or by the agency.

Review refers to the process of examining documents located in response to a MPIA request to determine whether one or more of the statutory exemptions permit withholding. It also includes the processing of documents for disclosure, such as excising them for release. Review does not include time spent resolving general legal or policy issues regarding the application of exemptions.