Open Records Requests

The Public Information Act

Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, gives you the right to access government records; and an officer for public information and the officer's agent may not ask why you want them. All government information is presumed to be available to the public. Certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information. Governmental bodies shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, or information for which an exception to disclosure has not been sought.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has set forth tips to help you make a successful Public Information Act request. (https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/og/how-to-request-public-information) In part, the tips are as follows:

1. Your request must be in writing to the governmental entity you believe maintains the documents
2. Your request should be for documents or other information that is already in existence
Governmental bodies are not required to answer questions, perform legal research, or comply with a continuing request to supply information on a periodic basis as such information is prepared in the future.
3. The OAG recommends that all requests be sent by U.S. mail and that a copy of the original request and proof of its receipt by the governmental body be kept.
4. The OAG recommends that all requests be addressed to the Officer for Public Information or the chief administrative officer of the governmental body. Requests made by facsimile or electronic mail must be addressed to the Officer for Public Information or the chief administrative officer in order to trigger an obligation under the Public Information Act.
5. If you believe that a governmental body has not responded as required by the Public Information Act, the OAG recommends that you contact the OAG Open Records Division Hotline at (512) 478-6736 or toll-free (877) 673-6839.

Each complaint, investigation file and record, and other investigation report and all other investigative information in the possession of or received or gathered by the board or the board's employees or agents relating to a license holder, an application for license, or a criminal investigation or proceeding is privileged and confidential and is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for release to anyone other than the board or the board's employees or agents involved in discipline of a license holder.

Rights of Requestors

You have the right to:

       Prompt access to information that is not confidential or otherwise protected;

-       Receive treatment equal to all other requestors, including accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements;

-       Receive certain kinds of information without exceptions, like the voting record of public officials, and other information;

-       Receive a written statement of estimated charges, when charges will exceed $40, in advance of work being started and opportunity to modify the request in response to the itemized statement;

-       Choose whether to inspect the requested information (most often at no charge), receive copies of the information or both;

-       A waiver or reduction of charges if the governmental body determines that access to the information primarily benefits the general public;

-       Receive a copy of the communication from the governmental body asking the Office of the Attorney General for a ruling on whether the information can be withheld under one of the accepted exceptions, or if the communication discloses the requested information, a redacted copy;

-       Lodge a written complaint about overcharges for public information with the Office of the Attorney General. Complaints of other possible violations may be filed with the county or district attorney of the county where the governmental body, other than a state agency, is located. If the complaint is against the county or district attorney, the complaint must be filed with the Office of the Attorney General.

Responsibilities of Governmental Bodies

All governmental bodies responding to information requests have the responsibility to:

-       Establish reasonable procedures for inspecting or copying public information and inform requestors of these procedures;

-       Treat all requestors uniformly and shall give to the requestor all reasonable comfort and facility, including accommodation in accordance with ADA requirements;

-       Be informed about open records laws and educate employees on the requirements of those laws;

-       Inform requestors of the estimated charges greater than $40 and any changes in the estimates above 20 percent of the original estimate, and confirm that the requestor accepts the charges, has amended the request, or has sent a complaint of overcharges to the Office of the Attorney General, in writing before finalizing the request;

-       Inform the requestor if the information cannot be provided promptly and set a date and time to provide it within a reasonable time;

-       Request a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General regarding any information the governmental body wishes to withhold, and send a copy of the request for ruling, or a redacted copy, to the requestor;

-       Segregate public information from information that may be withheld and provide that public information promptly;

-       Make a good faith attempt to inform third parties when their proprietary information is being requested from the governmental body;

-       Respond in writing to all written communications from the Office of the Attorney General regarding charges for the information. Respond to the Office of the Attorney General regarding complaints about violations of the Act.

  Procedures to Obtain Information

-       Submit a request by mail, fax, email or in person according to a governmental body's reasonable procedures.

-       Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the governmental body to accurately identify and locate the information requested.

-       Cooperate with the governmental body's reasonable efforts to clarify the type or amount of information requested.

A. Information to be released

-       You may review it promptly, and if it cannot be produced within 10 working days the public information officer will notify you in writing of the reasonable date and time when it will be available.

-       Keep all appointments to inspect records and to pick up copies. Failure to keep appointments may result in losing the opportunity to inspect the information at the time requested.

Cost of Records

-       You must respond to any written estimate of charges within 10 business days of the date the governmental body sent it or the request is considered automatically withdrawn.

-       If estimated costs exceed $100.00 (or $50.00 if a governmental body has fewer than 16 full time employees) the governmental body may require a bond, prepayment or deposit.

-       You may ask the governmental body to determine whether providing the information primarily benefits the general public, resulting in a waiver or reduction of charges.

-       Make a timely payment for all mutually agreed charges. A governmental body can demand payment of overdue balances exceeding $100.00, or obtain a security deposit, before processing additional requests from you.

B. Information that may be withheld due to an exception

-       By the 10th business day after a governmental body receives your written request, a governmental body must:

1. request an Attorney General opinion and state which exceptions apply;

2. notify the requestor of the referral to the Attorney General; and

3. notify third parties if the request involves their proprietary information.

-       Failure to request an Attorney General opinion and notify the requestor within 10 business days will result in a presumption that the information is open unless there is a compelling reason to withhold it.

-       Requestors may send a letter to the Attorney General arguing for release, and may review arguments made by the governmental body. If the arguments disclose the requested information, the requestor may obtain a redacted copy.

-       The Attorney General must issue a decision no later than the 45th working day from the day after the attorney general received the request for a decision. The attorney general may request an additional 10 working day extension.

-       Governmental bodies may not ask the Attorney General to "reconsider" an opinion.

Sec. 801.207.  PUBLIC RECORD;  EXCEPTION .   

(a)  Except as provided by Subsection (b), a board record is a public record and is available for public inspection during normal business hours.

(b) Each complaint, investigation file and record, and other investigation report and all other investigative information in the possession of or received or gathered by the board or the board's employees or agents relating to a license holder, an application for license, or a criminal investigation or proceeding is privileged and confidential and is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for release to anyone other than the board or the board's employees or agents involved in discipline of a license holder.

(c)  The board shall protect the identity of a complainant to the extent possible.

(d)  Not later than the 30th day after the date of receipt of a written request from a license holder who is the subject of a formal complaint initiated and filed under this subchapter or from the license holder's counsel of record, and subject to any other privilege or restriction set forth by rule, statute, or legal precedent, and unless good cause is shown for delay, the board shall provide the license holder with access to all information in its possession that the board intends to offer into evidence in presenting its case in chief at the contested hearing on the complaint.  The board is not required to provide:

(1)  a board investigative report or memorandum;
(2)  the identity of a nontestifying complainant; or
(3)  attorney-client communications, attorney work product, or other materials covered by a privilege recognized by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure or the Texas Rules of Evidence.
(e)  Furnishing information under Subsection (d) does not constitute a waiver of privilege or confidentiality under this chapter or other applicable law.

How to Request Information from this Agency

To request information from this governmental body, please contact:

By Mail:          Open Records
                        Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
                        333 Guadalupe St., Suite 3-810
                        Austin, Texas 78701

By e-mail to:  openrecords@veterinary.texas.gov

By fax to:        512-305-7574

In person at:    333 Guadalupe St., Suite 3-810
                        Austin, Texas 78701

Requests made by fax or e-mail must be made to the fax number or e-mail address above.

For complaints regarding failure to release public information please contact your local County or District Attorney. Please ask and you will be provided with this information.

-       You may also contact the Office of the Attorney General, Open Government Hotline, at 512-478-6736 or toll-free at 1-877-673-6839.

-       For complaints regarding overcharges, please contact the Office of the Attorney General's Cost Rules Administrator at 512-475-2497.

If you need special accommodation pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please contact our ADA coordinator at 512-305-7555.