How open is your government? Find out.

Each state has its own laws about making documents, data and other records accessible to the public. There are also separate public records laws for the federal agencies, the District of Columbia, and territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. MuckRock tracks how states impose exemptions that allow them to withhold records; how quickly each state responds; and other factors affecting government transparency. The data in this interactive database is drawn from MuckRock's database and from work by Miranda Spivack, an independent journalist, who developed data on open government in collaboration with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, students at Marquette University's Diederich College of Communication and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. View the original version of this visualization at the Journal Sentinel.

Click on any jurisdiction to learn more about its laws, and let us know what data you'd like to see us start tracking or if you see something that needs updating.

Average Response Time

Governments fulfilling requests for public records have a reputation for being slow, but how slow can vary widely based on state, agency, and the complexity of the request. Below is the average number of days for agencies to complete requests, updated in real time based on requests filed and tracked through MuckRock. Note that these are mean averages — a few outliers can make a big difference in states with fewer requests. States in green are the fastest at under 30 days; agencies in yellow respond, on average, within 30 to 60 days; and red agencies take more than 60 days to respond.

 
 
 
 
 
177
USA
 
 
 
 
 
57
AK
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
30
ME
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
29
VT
34
NH
70
WA
22
ID
42
MT
34
ND
66
MN
 
54
MI
 
86
NY
75
MA
18
RI
121
OR
62
UT
48
WY
26
SD
50
IA
46
WI
46
IN
59
OH
69
PA
60
NJ
57
CT
58
CA
69
NV
54
CO
24
NE
47
MO
41
IL
38
KY
44
WV
32
VA
55
MD
51
DE
 
106
AZ
70
NM
55
KS
29
AR
47
TN
64
NC
69
SC
114
DC
 
 
 
 
 
89
OK
93
LA
111
MS
93
AL
40
GA
 
 
 
62
HI
 
 
57
TX
 
 
 
 
61
FL
 
 

Is there a fixed time in which the agency needs to respond?

Most states specify a number of days that its governments have to respond to a public records request. While these deadlines are often missed, this element of the law is useful for reminding agencies that a legal clock is ticking. Some states interpret these deadlines as the deadline for an initial response, while others use it as a deadline for a final response, often with the ability to extend the deadline for complex requests.

 
 
 
 
 
USA
 
 
 
 
 
AK
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ME
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VT
NH
WA
ID
MT
ND
MN
 
MI
 
NY
MA
RI
OR
UT
WY
SD
IA
WI
IN
OH
PA
NJ
CT
CA
NV
CO
NE
MO
IL
KY
WV
VA
MD
DE
 
AZ
NM
KS
AR
TN
NC
SC
DC
 
 
 
 
 
OK
LA
MS
AL
GA
 
 
 
HI
 
 
TX
 
 
 
 
FL
 
 

Do public record laws apply to the executive branch?

In almost every state, public records laws apply to the governor's office, although many states offer special carve outs for the executive. At the federal level, while the White House is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, (FOIA) it is subject to the Presidential Records Act, which allows disclosure of some records five years after the president leaves office.

 
 
 
 
 
USA
 
 
 
 
 
AK
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ME
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VT
NH
WA
ID
MT
ND
MN
 
MI
 
NY
MA
RI
OR
UT
WY
SD
IA
WI
IN
OH
PA
NJ
CT
CA
NV
CO
NE
MO
IL
KY
WV
VA
MD
DE
 
AZ
NM
KS
AR
TN
NC
SC
DC
 
 
 
 
 
OK
LA
MS
AL
GA
 
 
 
HI
 
 
TX
 
 
 
 
FL
 
 

Do public record laws apply to the legislative branch?

While many states offer some access to legislative records, that can vary widely. In some cases, only administrative records are subject to disclosure, while other states allow broad access to communications with constituents and other records.

 
 
 
 
 
USA
 
 
 
 
 
AK
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ME
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VT
NH
WA
ID
MT
ND
MN
 
MI
 
NY
MA
RI
OR
UT
WY
SD
IA
WI
IN
OH
PA
NJ
CT
CA
NV
CO
NE
MO
IL
KY
WV
VA
MD
DE
 
AZ
NM
KS
AR
TN
NC
SC
DC
 
 
 
 
 
OK
LA
MS
AL
GA
 
 
 
HI
 
 
TX
 
 
 
 
FL
 
 

Which states allow blocking out-of-state requestors?

Citing the Supreme Court precedent McBurney v. Young, a number of states can block requests from out of staters. Many agencies in these states do continue to process requests from non-residents. The citizenship requirement can be an additional barrier to access, even for resident requesters who might prefer to maintain their privacy or who don't have access to identification.

 
 
 
 
 
USA
 
 
 
 
 
AK
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ME
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VT
NH
WA
ID
MT
ND
MN
 
MI
 
NY
MA
RI
OR
UT
WY
SD
IA
WI
IN
OH
PA
NJ
CT
CA
NV
CO
NE
MO
IL
KY
WV
VA
MD
DE
 
AZ
NM
KS
AR
TN
NC
SC
DC
 
 
 
 
 
OK
LA
MS
AL
GA
 
 
 
HI
 
 
TX
 
 
 
 
FL
 
 

Do public records laws apply to the judiciary?

Often courts are exempt from traditional public records laws, and instead provide access to legal filings and other judicial records via their own access rules and systems. Even in those states where the judiciary is subject to public records requests, there are often wide exemptions for judges' own records .

 
 
 
 
 
USA
 
 
 
 
 
AK
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
ME
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
VT
NH
WA
ID
MT
ND
MN
 
MI
 
NY
MA
RI
OR
UT
WY
SD
IA
WI
IN
OH
PA
NJ
CT
CA
NV
CO
NE
MO
IL
KY
WV
VA
MD
DE
 
AZ
NM
KS
AR
TN
NC
SC
DC
 
 
 
 
 
OK
LA
MS
AL
GA
 
 
 
HI
 
 
TX
 
 
 
 
FL
 
 

How many exemptions are in MuckRock's database for each jurisdiction?

MuckRock has a growing database of public records exemptions, details on how they should and should not be applied, and sample language to craft an appeal. This database is not comprehensive. A jurisdiction may have more exemptions than are actually written into law.

 
 
 
 
 
18
 
 
 
 
 
3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3
3
2
3
3
3
3
 
3
 
3
13
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3
6
3
3
3
3
3
8
3
3
3
3
6
 
5
3
3
3
3
3
3
0
 
 
 
 
 
3
3
3
3
4
 
 
 
13
 
 
3
 
 
 
 
4
 
 

Michael Andre, Gurman Bhatia, JPat Brown, Jabril Faraj, Maddy Kennedy, Mitchell Kotler, Beryl Lipton, Edgar Mendez, Michael Morisy, Devi Shastri, Theresa Soley, Miranda Spivack, and Curtis Waltman contributed to the research, fact checking, design and implementation of this database. For any updates, additions or corrections, please send an email to info@muckrock.com. It was funded in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism, Marquette’s O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism, and the Arnold Foundation.