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10. Can a requester ask for the creation or compilation of a new record?


  • Alabama

    The state is not obligated to make new records at the behest of a requestor.  The Alabama attorney general has declared:

    It is not [a public agency's] responsibility or duty to provide the information to [the requester] in a particular form nor must [the agency] necessarily compile or assimilate the information for the public. Your responsibility is to provide reasonable access to the information and for the information to be a reasonable form (e.g. legible copies if possible or in regular language rather than a code form a person outside the office would not be familiar with).

    Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. No. 88-00079 at 5 (Dec. 16, 1987) (diskette of personnel data requested; the requested data need not be provided in that particular form). Op. Att'y Gen. Ala. No. 2007-001, 2006 Ala. AG LEXIS 119 (Oct. 2, 2006) (“Because a state agency may regulate the manner in which public records are produced, inspected, and copied, a state agency . . . is not required to distribute public records in the manner that a requestor specifies.”).

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  • California

    The CPRA does sometimes require agencies to construct records for public release.  Nat. Lawyers Guild v. City of Hayward, 9 Cal. 5th 488, 502, 263 Cal. Rptr. 3d 124 (2020).  However, an agency need not produce “new substantive content to respond to a PRA request” nor must it “draft summary or explanatory material, perform calculations on data, or create inventories of data in response to a records request.” Id.  The Court, for example, has recognized that where feasible an agency may be required to produce electronic information in a non-native format to facilitate redaction and anonymizing to protect privacy interests even if the native format in which the data is held would not facilitate such functions. In other words, in certain circumstances, an agency may be required to create a record with responsive information where the burden of doing so is not outweighed by the interests in disclosure. See ACLU v. Superior Court, 3 Cal. 5th 1032, 1047, 221 Cal. Rptr. 3d 832, 400 P.3d 432 (2017). But cf. Sander v. Superior Court, 26 Cal. App. 5th 651, 665-67, 237 Cal. Rptr. 3d 276 (2018) (holding request to State Bar of California for individually unidentifiable bar admission records required the creation of new records through data manipulation that involved recoding with new values, and thus was beyond the scope of the CPRA).

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Georgia

    The Act specifically provides that, “No public officer or agency shall be required to prepare new reports, summaries, or compilations not in existence at the time of the request.” O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(j). See, e.g., Griffin Indus., Inc. v. Ga. Dep't of Agric., 313 Ga. App. 69, 74, 720 S.E.2d 212, 216 (2011)(given evidence that agency “did not maintain the purported e-mails on its system and would have to extract them from backup tapes using a laborious compilation process, the information sought … ‘was not an existing public record, and non-disclosure thereof did not violate the Act.’).

    In the case of electronic records, data and data fields, the Act provides that agencies shall produce electronic copies or, if the requester prefers, printouts of electronic records or data from data base fields that the agency maintains using the computer programs that the agency has in its possession. § 50-18-71(f).

    An agency shall not refuse to produce such electronic records, data or data fields on the grounds that exporting data or redaction of exempted information will require inputting range, search, filter, report parameters, or similar commands or instructions into an agency's computer system so long as such commands or instructions can be executed using existing computer programs that the agency uses in the ordinary course of business to access, support, or otherwise manage the records or data. Id.

    A requester may request production in the format in which such data or electronic records are kept by the agency, or in a standard export format such as a flat file electronic American Standard Code for Information Exchange (ASCII) format, if the agency’s existing computer programs support such an export format. Id. (providing that in such instance, the data or electronic records shall be downloaded in such format onto suitable electronic media by the agency). Id.

    In lieu of providing separate printouts or copies of records or data, an agency may provide access to records through a website accessible by the public. However, if an agency receives a request for data fields, it shall not refuse to provide the responsive data on the grounds that the data is available in whole or in its constituent parts through a website if the requester seeks the data in the electronic format in which it is kept. § 50-18-71(h) (also providing that if an agency contracts with a private vendor to collect or maintain public records, the agency shall ensure that the arrangement does not limit public access to those records).

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  • Illinois

    The public body need not create or maintain records it would not otherwise create or maintain. See Chicago Trib. Co. v. Dept of Fin. & Pro. Regul., 2014 IL App (4th) 130417, ¶ 34, 8 N.E.3d 11, 19 (“FOIA (1) ‘is not designed to compel the compilation of data the governmental body does not ordinarily keep’”) (citing Kenyon v. Garrels, 184 Ill. App. 3d 28, 540 N.E.2d 11 (1989); Public Access Opinion 11-001 (available at

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  • Kansas

    A public agency is “not required to prepare a report or conduct an investigation in response to a request for information.”  Kan. Att’y Gen. Op. 93-126.

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  • Louisiana

    No.  The records custodian is required only to provide the requested information in the format in which it is maintained; there is no obligation to create new documents in a specific format. Zillow, Inc. v. Bealer, 333 So.3d 854, 858 (La.App. 3d Cir.), writ denied, 337 So.3d 908 (La. 2022); Zillow, Inc. v. Gardner, 341 So.3d 765, 772-73 (La.App. 1st Cir. 2022); Zillow, Inc. v. Taylor, 21-739, 350 So.3d 550, 555 (La.App. 3d Cir. 2022).

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  • Massachusetts

    Custodians may, but are not required to, create new records to respond to a request. Guide to Mass. Pub. Recs. Law at 8 (Sec’y of State, rev. Mar. 2020),

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  • Michigan

    A public body need not create or compile a new record at a FOIA requester’s request. Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. 15.233(5). A request for a compiled list of information, however, has been held not to be a creation of a new record. See Detroit Free Press, Inc. v. City of Southfield, 269 Mich. App. 275, 713 N.W.2d 28 (2005) (holding request for “a list of the individuals who receive the 20 largest pension payout” was not creation of new record because the request could be fulfilled by printing out the entire roster of pensioners and redacting all but the 20 individuals requested).

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  • New Jersey

    No. A wholesale request for a public agency to research, analyze, collate, and compile general information, rather than a proper request for specific documents, is improper under OPRA.   MAG Entertainment, LLC v. Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, 375 N.J. Super. 534, 543 (App. Div. 2005).

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  • New Mexico

    Yes, but the custodian has no obligation to “create” a new record. NMSA § 14-2-8(B)(2009).

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  • North Carolina

    No. G.S. § 132-6.2(e) provides: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a public agency to respond to a request for a copy of a public record by creating or compiling a record that does not exist. If a public agency, as a service to the requester, voluntarily elects to create or compile a record, it may negotiate a reasonable charge for the service with the requester.”

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  • Oklahoma

    The Act does not impose any additional record-keeping requirements on public bodies or public officials, including making new records. 51 O.S. § 24A.18.

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  • Vermont

    Yes.  “An agency may, but is not required to . . . create a public record.”  1 V.S.A. § 316(i).  In the event an agency creates a public record on behalf of a requestor, the agency is allowed to recover the cost of the staff time associated with creating the record.  See 1 V.S.A. § 316(c)(2); see also Judicial Watch, Inc. v. State, 2005 VT 108, ¶¶ 6, 19, 892 A.2d 191, 195, 200 (Vt. 2005).

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  • Virginia

    “[N]o public body shall be required to create a new record if the record does not already exist. However, a public body may abstract or summarize information under such terms and conditions as agreed between the requester and the public body.” Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3704.D. “The excision of exempt fields of information from a database or the conversion of data from one available format to another shall not be deemed the creation, preparation, or compilation of a new public record.” Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3704.G.

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  • Washington

    The PRA does not require an agency to create new records that do not already exist. An agency may respond to requests by providing customized access to existing databases, though it may assess fees (which must be disclosed in advance) if doing so requires use of data services not used by the agency for other agency purposes. RCW 42.56.120(3).

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  • Wisconsin

    Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 19.35(1)(L), “this subsection does not require an authority to create a new record by extracting information from existing records and compiling the information in a new format.”

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