What to do when you are assigned a public records request

If you have been assigned to a public records request, promptly begin gathering the records in your possession that are responsive to the request, unless any of the following apply:

  • It will take longer than one hour to retrieve documents responsive to the request
  • The response will require computer programming or database extraction
  • More than 20 hard-copy pages must be copied or scanned

If any of these apply, notify the Office of Transparency, and they will send an invoice to the requestor according to an established fee schedule.

If none of the above apply, or if you have been notified by the Office of Transparency that payment has been received, begin gathering the records. Records include all records, documents, tape or other information stored or preserved in any medium. Examples of records are emails, paper documents, electronic files, attachments to emails, voice messages, photos or images.

When retrieving records, make sure to search all possible folders and locations, including but not limited to

When retrieving records, make sure to search all possible folders and locations, including but not limited to:

  • Inbox
  • Sent folder
  • Other email folders
  • Deleted folder
  • DIRT (Deleted Item Retention) server (view instructions for recovering here)
  • Personal folders or .pst files stored on your hard drive or file server
  • Storage cloud
  • Hard drives/Network drives
  • Document sharing accounts (i.e. Sharepoint)
  • Hard copy folders
  • Personal devices (for example, emails sent through your personal email account, text messages sent on your personal cell phone, etc.). Remember that records created in the conduct of university business are still public records even if they are stored in your personal devices.

Final steps

Once you have finished gathering the records, send all responsive materials to the Office of Transparency, preferably in some type of electronic format.  Below are some ideas for saving and sending your electronic records:

For paper documents, please scan all pages and email the file to public-records@uiowa.edu. If the file size is too large, please upload the file to OneDrive, or it can be sent to the Office of Transparency on a flash drive.

Important: Do not delete, destroy, or conceal any record that is subject to a pending public records request.

All responsive materials should be sent to the Office of Transparency. Do not withhold or redact any records because you think the information is confidential or exempt from release.  Leave that determination to the Office of Transparency, who will consult with the Office of General Counsel. If you believe a record is confidential, you may point it out to the Office of Transparency, but you should still send the original record to the Office of Transparency for review.