The Public Information Act
In dealing with open records requests for public information, The Gulf Coast Center (Center) is committed to providing customer friendly service. Under the Texas Public Information Act, formerly known as the Open Records Act, you have the right to access information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees and we may not ask why you want the information. All government information is presumed to be available to the public. Certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information. Governmental bodies, such as The Gulf Coast Center, shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law or information for which an exception to disclosure has been sought.
Procedures to Obtain Information
- Submit a request on this website by filling out the online form using the link for the form at the top of this page.
- Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the Center to accurately identify and locate the items requested.
- Cooperate with the Center's reasonable efforts to clarify the type or amount of information requested.
- You may review it promptly, and if it cannot be produced within 10 working days the public information officer will notify you in writing of the reasonable date and time when it will be available.
- Keep appointments to inspect records or pick up copies or risk losing the opportunity to see the information.
Cost of Records
- You must respond to any written estimate of charges within 10 days of the date the Center sent it or the request may be deemed withdrawn.
- If estimated costs exceed $100.00 (or $50.00 if a governmental body has fewer than 16 full time employees) the Center may require a bond, prepayment or deposit.
- You may ask the Center to determine whether providing the information primarily benefits the general public, resulting in a waiver or reduction of charges.
Information that may be withheld due to an exception
By the 10th business day after you file your request, the Center must:
- Request an Attorney General opinion and state which exceptions apply;
- Notify the requestor of the referral to the Attorney General; and
- Notify third parties if the request involves their proprietary information
- Failure to request an AG opinion and notify the requestor within 10 business days will result in a presumption that the information is open unless there is a compelling reason to withhold it.
- Requestors may send a letter to the Attorney General arguing for release, and may review arguments made by the governmental body.
- Make a timely payment for all mutually agreed charges. A governmental body can demand payment of overdue balances exceeding $100.00, or obtain a security deposit, before processing additional requests from you
- The Attorney General must issue an opinion by the 65th working day from the day you made the request.
- Governmental bodies must release information determined by the Attorney General to be open or file suit within 20 calendar days, and they may not ask the Attorney General to "reconsider" an opinion.
Some of the information maintained by The Center may contain information that is not public, such as the following:
- Protected health information, medical information or medical records;
- attorney-client communications;
- attorney work product;
- documents made confidential by law; and
- documents claimed to be proprietary by a third party (confidential or trade secret information).
If you want to review or get copies of the information listed above, it may be necessary for the Center to request an Attorney General's opinion about this information. This non-public information will not be available for review until after the Attorney General makes a decision about whether the information is public or not public. The Attorney General's office has about 12 weeks to make a decision on.
If part of the information you requested is considered public information, then you will be able to review or get copies of the public information, even if a request for an Attorney General's open records opinion is necessary regarding the non-public information. If public information and non-public information are both included in a single document, the document will be provided to you. However, the information believed to be non-public or exempt will be redacted (marked out) while the Center’s request for an Attorney General's opinion is pending.
If you are not seeking access to non-public or exempt information, you may simply state in your request that you do not want any information that is protected by law, and you do not want any information that is considered to be non-public. If you indicate that you are only seeking information that the Office of the Attorney General considers public information, then it will not be necessary for the Commission to request an opinion from the Attorney General.