Skip to main content

Guidelines for Responding to Requests for Public Records

Reference Number: MTAS-457
Reviewed Date: 09/19/2022

In T.C.A. § 10-7-505(d), the Tennessee General Assembly declares that the Tennessee Public Records Act (hereinafter "TPRA") "shall be broadly construed so as to give the fullest possible access to public records." Courts in Tennessee opined that unless there is a clear exception provided in law, all records of a governmental entity are to be open to citizens for inspection and/or copying. However, the Courts also acknowledged the ability of records custodians to adopt reasonable rules governing the manner in which records request are to be made and fulfilled.

In an effort to provide records custodians with a resource that can be utilized when responding to public records request made pursuant to the TPRA, the Office of Open Records Counsel (hereinafter "OORC") in conjunction with the Advisory Committee on Open Government developed "Best Practices and Guidelines."

While records custodians must follow the provisions of the TPRA, some provisions within the Best Practices and Guidelines are not required to be followed. However, a Court may consider adherence or failure to adhere to the guidelines in determining whether action by a governmental entity constitutes a willful violation of the TPRA, such that attorney's fees should be awarded. Tenn. Code Ann. Section 10-7-505(g). These guidelines will be reviewed at least annually by the OORC.