What is the Texas Public Information Act?
What Should My Request Include?
Where Should I Send the Request?
How Will I Be Charged?
When Can I Expect a Response to My Request?
Am I Entitled to All of the Information I Request?
What Happens if the University Believes the Information I Have Requested is Confidential?
What are my Rights as a Requestor?
Can I Withdraw my Request?
How Do I Get a Copy of Transcripts or Other Student Information?
What is the UH System Policy on the Texas Public Information Act?
How Do I Find Additional Information About the Texas Public Information Act?
The Texas Public Information Act (the “Act”) entitles individuals to information about the affairs of government in Texas and the official acts of public officials and employees in Texas, unless otherwise expressly provided by law. A Texas Public Information Act request is a request for public information that is maintained by a Texas governmental agency, such as the University of Houston System and any of its component institutions (e.g., the University of Houston (“UH”), the University of Houston-Downtown (“UHD”), the University of Houston-Clear Lake (“UHCL”), and the University of Houston-Victoria (“UHV”) (hereinafter referred to collectively as the “University”)).
Your request should be in writing and should include the following information:
1) Your name, mailing address, and e-mail address (so we can send you a response)
2) Your phone number (so we can contact you with questions about how to respond to your request)
3) A list or description of the specific information you are interested in obtaining, including time periods. Try to be as specific as possible about the information you are seeking. Please also specify which component institution (e.g., UH, UHD, UHCL, UHV) you are seeking the information from.
Dear Public Information Officer,
Pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act, I would like to request a copy of the current contract between the University of Houston and ABC Company. When you have the information complete, please e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you have any questions, please give me a call at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
[Requestor’s name and address].
Your request should be sent to the University of Houston System's Public Information Act Officer via mail, fax, e-mail, or in person as follows:
By e-mail to email@example.com
By fax to (713) 743-0726 (Attention: Public Information Act Officer)
By mail or in person to 4302 University Drive (Office 311 of the E. Cullen Building), Houston, Texas 77204-2028 (Attention: Public Information Act Officer)
The University is authorized under the Texas Public Information Act to charge requestors for the costs associated with producing public information. The University will utilize the costs provided in Title I, Section 70.10 of the Texas Administrative Code with regard to charging requestors who seek public information under the Texas Public Information Act (see table below). These charges are those allowed by the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.
If the request is for 50 or fewer pages of readily available information, or if the charge for fulfilling the request is under $10.00, the requestor will generally not be charged. However, if a requestor is not charged, the personnel time that was spent will be calculated towards the 36 hour time limit that has been set by the University as provided by SAM 03.H.02 at 2.6. Requestors who exceed the 36 hour time limit will be required to pay costs attributable to cost of materials, overhead and personnel time regardless of whether the requestor intends to only inspect the documents. See SAM 03.H.02.
If the charge for fulfilling a request exceeds $40.00, the requestor will be provided an itemized written estimate of the charges and will be informed if a less costly alternative is available. If the estimated charge is more than $100.00, the University will require a prepaid deposit or bond (approximately 50% of the estimated charge) before compiling the information. Please note that the 10 business day deadline starts over when the University receives your deposit.
If the cost associated with producing public information exceeds $10.00, the OGC will require the requestor to submit payment in full prior to releasing any information to the requestor.
Texas Public Information Act Request Charges
By the 10th business day after the University receives your written request, the University will (1) Provide you the requested information; (2) Certify a date and time the information will be made available to you; (3) Send you a cost-estimate or a bill for the charges; (4) Ask you to narrow or clarify the scope of your request (please note that the 10 business day deadline starts over when you respond to the University’s request for narrowing or clarification); or (5) Request an open records letter ruling from the Office of the Attorney General and provide you a copy of its request.
In general, information that is held by the University is presumed to be public information, but there are some exceptions. Some of the exceptions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Student information/records
- Medical information/records
- Driver’s license or motor vehicle information
- Bank account or other account numbers
- Attorney/client privileged communications
- Attorney work product
- Information that relates to current or anticipated litigation
- Information that relates to a pending criminal investigation or a criminal investigation that did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication
- Information that relates to the proposed policy making functions of the University (otherwise known as the deliberative process privilege)
- Third party proprietary information
- Other information that is made confidential under applicable law
The University is allowed in certain cases to redact the confidential information without your permission or a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General of Texas (e.g., student information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Otherwise, the University may contact you to see if you are willing to narrow the scope of your request to exclude certain items that are confidential (e.g. , attorney client privileged communications). It may be necessary for the University to file a brief with the Office of the Attorney General seeking an open records letter ruling on whether the information you have requested is subject to public disclosure. In such a case, the University will then wait for a decision from the Office of the Attorney General (a process that can take up to 45 working days).
You have the right to:
- Prompt access to information that is not confidential or otherwise protected;
- Receive treatment equalto all other requestors, including accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements;
- 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, receive copies of the information or both;
- Receive a copy of the communication from the University 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.
You can withdraw your request at any time by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and indicating you would like to withdraw your request.
In order to receive a copy of University transcripts or other student information, you should contact the registrar's office at your UH System component institution as opposed to submitting a Texas Public Information Act request.
Click here to access the transcript form.
For more information about the Act, you may wish to refer to the 2014 Public Information Act Handbook published by the Office of the Attorney General of Texas (“OAG”) or the OAG's Texas Public Information Act poster.
Additional information is available on departmental websites of the University. Members of the public may immediately obtain this information by accessing the departmental websites. Below are frequently accessed websites.