Help Build the Open States Guide
Thanks again for your help building out an open, free guide to every state’s public records law. The project is well under way, but your research and knowledge can help make sure it’s the best resource it can be.
The guide consists of two main parts: The state guides and the exemption overviews. Help is needed for both, but we’re trying to wrap up the states by the end of the year, and help is appreciated!
If you have questions, would like to submit some information, or would like to claim a state to work on, just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To fill out a state guide, be sure to first check out and see if has already been done, and then head over and copy the template into your favorite editor, like Word, Google Drive, or a plain text editor. Then just work your way through the template, and let us know if you have questions. A list of states where we need help is at the bottom of this page.
There's a variety of existing resources that are helpful in putting together these guides:
- RCFP's Open Government Guide (note that it was last updated in 2011 and may be out of date in some places).
- Guides from that state's Attorney's General office (almost every state has one)
- A given state's NFOIC affiliate
- The Center for Public Integrity also offers a ranking of each state's laws
- The Boston Globe also has an interactive surveying key areas of each state's public records law
- The Journal Sentinal has a good comparison across many points of each state's public records laws
- The National Association of Counties has a state-by-state guide, last updated in 2010
- WNYC has a breakdown around police misconduct transparency rules in every state
- This is a useful guide to which states can assert copyright on their own public records
- NFOIC State Resource Page
- NFOIC State Sample FOI Letters
- NFOIC FOI Laws Page
- 2007 Report on Ombuds offices
To submit a new exemption to our database, check out this existing exemption, and then send over the following information:
- General name for the exemption
- Which state it is in
- An overview of the exemption
- When it is properly applied
- When it is improperly applied
- Key citations and court cases that are useful to know
Also include copies of appeal language that would be useful, and when those appeals should be used.
States that need help
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota