Open Records - AHERA

Open Records - AHERA

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.

Non-Releasable Information

Certain information may be confidential under the Texas Public Information Act, Tex. Government Code Ann. Chapter 552. For instance, any complaints and/or investigative information involving hospitals on or after August 30, 1999, may be confidential and not releasable under the Public Information Act and the Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. Section 241.051(d).

If you request information that is not releasable or non-existent, you will be informed.

Procedures to Obtain Information

Requests must be in writing.
State if you want copies or if you would like to review the items.

Reasonably identify the records you are requesting:

  1. Name of the facility or name of the person.
  2. Address of the facility (to include the physical address, suite number, city, and ZIP CODE)
  3. Specify what you want, i.e.: application, license, license number/identifying numbers, procedures, and inspection.
  4. A time frame for the requested information (i.e., 2002-2003 or inspection report dated October 7, 2003).

Providing this information will make it easier for us to quickly respond to your request. Be as specific as possible about the information you are seeking. Send your request to:

By Email or Fax

Email: Environmental Health Group Open Records
Fax: 512-834-6726

By Mail

Asbestos Program Open Records Coordinator, MC 2835

Texas Department of State Health Services
P. O. Box 149347
Austin, TX 78714-9347

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 per 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 the 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.
  • 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 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 Texas Building and Procurement Commission. 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 per 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, or has amended the request, 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 for the Office of 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 Texas Building and Procurement Commission regarding charges for the information. Respond to the Office of the Attorney General regarding complaints about violations of the Act.

Additional Resources