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G. Agency obligation to identify basis of redaction or withholding


  • California

    The CPRA requires an agency to “promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons thereof.”  Cal. Gov’t Code § 7922.535(a).  And when the request is in writing, the agency’s “determination that the request is denied, in whole or in part, shall be in writing.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 7922.540(a).

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  • Delaware

    The Act does not require this, but the Attorney General has ordered agencies to provide the bases of redactions or withholding in public records decisions. Del. Op. Att’y Gen., No. 17-IB06 (Mar. 21, 2017); Del. Op. Att’y Gen., No. 16-IB03 (Mar. 4, 2016).

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  • District of Columbia

    If records are partially redacted under D.C. Code Ann. § 2-534(b), the agency has an obligation to explain and indicate the redactions:

    “In each case, the justification for the deletion shall be explained fully in writing, and the extent of the deletion shall be indicated on the portion of the record which is made available or published, unless including that indication would harm an interest protected by the exemption in subsection (a) of this section under which the deletion is made. If technically feasible, the extent of the deletion and the specific exemptions shall be indicated at the place in the record where the deletion was made.”

    D.C. Code Ann. § 2-534(b).

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  • Georgia

    In any instance in which an agency is required or has decided to withhold all or part of a requested record, the agency is obligated to notify the requester of the specific legal authority relied upon “by Code section, subsection, and paragraph.” O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71(d). The agency is required to provide this notification “within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three business days” or, in the event of a delay permitted by statute, “then no later than three business days after the records have been retrieved.” Id.

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  • Iowa

    No reported cases.

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  • Kansas

    “If the request for access is denied, the custodian shall provide, upon request, a written statement of the grounds for denial. Such statement shall cite the specific provision of law under which access is denied and shall be furnished to the requester not later than the end of the third business day following the date that the request for the statement is received.”

    K.S.A. 45-218(d).

    If a criminal investigation record is discretionarily closed by a public agency pursuant to K.S.A. 45-221(a)(10), “the record custodian, upon request, shall provide a written citation to the specific provisions of paragraphs (A) through (F) that necessitate closure of that public record.”  K.S.A. 45-221(a)(10).

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  • Maine

    When an agency denies a FOAA request, it must provide the requester “written notice . . . stating the reason for the denial.”1 M.R.S.A. § 408-A(4).

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  • Massachusetts

    Denials must explain the specific exemption for withholding the requested material.  G.L. c. 66, § 10(b)(iv).  The denial must include a citation to a statutory or common law exemption, and why the exemption applies to the material requested.  Guide to Mass. Pub. Recs. Law at 8 (Sec’y of State, rev. Jan. 2017),

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  • Montana

    Mont. Code Ann. § 2-6-1009(1) states that a public agency that denies a request to release information or records "shall provide a written explanation for the denial."

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  • New Jersey

    N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(g) provides:

    A request for access to a government record shall be in writing and hand-delivered, mailed, transmitted electronically, or otherwise conveyed to the appropriate custodian. A custodian shall promptly comply with a request to inspect, examine, copy, or provide a copy of a government record. If the custodian is unable to comply with a request for access, the custodian shall indicate the specific basis therefor on the request form and promptly return it to the requestor. The custodian shall sign and date the form and provide the requestor with a copy thereof. If the custodian of a government record asserts that part of a particular record is exempt from public access pursuant to P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.) as amended and supplemented, the custodian shall delete or excise from a copy of the record that portion which the custodian asserts is exempt from access and shall promptly permit access to the remainder of the record. If the government record requested is temporarily unavailable because it is in use or in storage, the custodian shall so advise the requestor and shall make arrangements to promptly make available a copy of the record. If a request for access to a government record would substantially disrupt agency operations, the custodian may deny access to the record after attempting to reach a reasonable solution with the requestor that accommodates the interests of the requestor and the agency.

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  • New Mexico

    There is no obligation to identify basis of redaction or withholding in IPRA.

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  • Oklahoma

    Public officials and public bodies bear the burden of establishing records are protected by an exemption, exception, confidential privilege, etc. 51 O.S. § 24A.2; 1995 OK AG 97.

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  • Vermont

    The Public Records Act requires that, in the event the state agency redacts or withholds information in response to a public records request, the “agency shall redact the information it considers to be exempt and produce the record accompanied by an explanation of the basis for denial of the redacted information.”  1 V.S.A. § 318(e).

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  • Virginia

    A public body is required whenever a record is withheld in whole or in part to state in writing and with reasonable particularity the volume and subject matter of withheld records, and to cite, as to each category of withheld records, the specific Code section that authorizes the withholding of the records.  Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3704.B.

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  • Wisconsin

    “If an authority denies a written request in whole or in part, the requestor shall receive from the authority a written statement of the reasons for denying the written request.” Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(b).

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