Passed by the Congress in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act allows any person – citizen or not – to request records in possession and control of a Federal agency and its components. The definition of records varies from state to state, but a record may be in the form of books, papers, maps, photographs, machine-readable materials, and information stored electronically such as websites, blog posts, chat logs, email, and SMS messages.
When agencies receive a records request, they must be able to provide access to the public records within a specified time frame. However, because “Freedom of Information” laws also vary per state, it can be quite confusing how long a particular state has to respond to a request. To shed light on these timelines, we have listed in this post the response deadlines of the 50 states should they receive an open records request.
- Vermont has the shortest timeframe, with two days, and Maryland has the longest, with 30.
- Nearly 25% of all states skew towards three to five days, while a little over a third are seven days or longer.
- Five states – 10% of the country – merely require a “prompt” response. This means that there’s little to stop public offices from those states from simply ignoring someone’s requests.
- In contrast, states like New York have a very formal appeals process which specifies that agencies failing to respond to requests within the ‘legally-mandated timeframe’ (five days) are in violation of the law.
To make public records more accessible and to streamline the request process, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a directive which provides guidance and timelines for electronic records retention. It is stated that by the end of 2019, federal agencies must manage all permanent records in an electronic format.
The mandate includes the ability to identify, store, retrieve and retain those records for as long as they are needed so agencies can locate and deliver them promptly, knowing they are trustworthy and complete.
Contact TeleMessage today to learn how our mobile archiving solutions can capture and retain your SMS, MMS and Calls. We can help you meet the NARA/OMB 2019 mandate and respond to open requests for messaging content quickly and efficiently.