Guide for Members of the Public Requesting Public Information

Right to Access Public Data

The Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13) presumes that all government data are public unless a state or federal law says the data are not public.  Government data is a term that means all recorded information a government entity has, including, but not limited to paper, email, CD-ROMs, and photographs.

The Data Practices Act also provides that St. Cloud State University must keep all government data in a way that makes it easy for you, as a member of the public, to access public data.  You have the right to look at (inspect), free of charge, all public data that we keep.  You also have the right to get copies of public data.  The Data Practices Act allows us to charge for copies. (Copy Costs) You have the right to look at data, free of charge, before deciding to request copies. 

How to Make a Data Request

To look at data or request copies of data that St. Cloud State University keeps, you must make a written request.  Make your written request for data to the appropriate individual listed in the Data Practices Contacts document.    You may submit your written request for data by delivering it to the appropriate office, by e mail, U.S. mail or FAX.  You may use the data request form

If you choose not to use the data request form, your written request should include:

  • that you, as a member of the public, are making a request for data under the Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13;
  • whether you would like to look at the data, get copies of the data, or both; and
  • a clear description of the data you would like to inspect or have copied.

 

St. Cloud State University cannot require you, as a member of the public, to identify yourself or explain the reason for your data request.  However, depending on how you want us to process your request (if, for example, you want us to mail you copies of data), we may need some information about you.  If you choose not to give us any identifying information, we will provide you with contact information so you may check on the status of your request.  In addition, please keep in mind that if we do not understand your request and have no way to contact you, we will not be able to begin processing your request. 

 

How We Respond to a Data Request

Upon receiving your written request, we will work to process it. 

  • If we do not have the data, we will notify you as soon as reasonably possible. 
  • If we have the data, but the data are not public, St. Cloud State University’s Data Practice Act Compliance Officer will notify you in writing as soon as reasonably possible and state which specific law says the data are not public.  This message may be delivered by electronic mail.
  • If we have the data, and the data are public, we may require you to pay in advance for the actual cost to research and copy the data.  We will not charge you for the time taken to separate public from private and nonpublic data, and the hourly wage of the lowest paid employee who can access and prepare the data will be used as the basis for the charged time.  Copy costs appear later in this document. 
  • We  will respond to your request appropriately and promptly, within a reasonable amount of time by doing one of the following:
    • arrange a date, time, and place for you to inspect data, for free, if your request is to look at the data, or
    • provide you with copies of the data as soon as reasonably possible.  You may choose to pick up your copies, or we will mail or fax them to you.  If you want us to send you the copies, you will need to provide us with an address or fax number.  We will provide electronic copies (such as email or CD-ROM) upon request if we keep the data in electronic format.  Information about copy charges is on page 4.  You will need to prepay the copying cost if assessed.

 

If you do not understand some of the data (technical terminology, abbreviations, or acronyms), please let us know.  We will give you an explanation if you ask. 

The Data Practices Act does not require us to create or collect new data in response to a data request if we do not already have the data, or to provide data in a specific form or arrangement if we do not keep the data in that form or arrangement.  (For example, if the data you request are on paper only, we are not required to create electronic documents to respond to your request.)  If we agree to create data in response to your request, we will work with you on the details of your request, including cost and response time.

The Data Practices Act does not require us to answer questions that are not requests for data.

Requests for Summary Data

Summary data are statistical records or reports of private or confidential data on individuals that are prepared by removing all identifiers.  The preparation of summary data is not a means to gain access to private or confidential data. St. Cloud State University will prepare summary data if you make your request in writing and prepay the cost of creating the data.  Upon receiving your written request – you may use the data request form on page 5-– we will respond within ten business days with the data or details of when the data will be ready and how much we will charge. 

This document is required by Minnesota Statutes, section 13.03, subdivision 2(b).

 

Copy Costs – Members of the Public

St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State University charges members of the public for copies of government data.  These charges are authorized under Minnesota Statutes, section 13.03, subdivision 3(c). 

You must pay for the copies before we provide them to you.  We do not charge for copies of documents on standard letter size paper if the cost (in addition to any research and copying time charge) is less than $10.  If there is no research cost we do not charge for fewer than 40 copies unless requests are connected and repeated.

For 100 or Fewer Paper Copies – 25 Cents Per Page

100 or fewer pages of black and white, letter or legal size paper copies cost 25¢ for a one-sided copy, or 50¢ for a two-sided copy.

Most Other Types of Copies – Actual Cost

The charge for most other types of copies, when a charge is not set by statute or rule, is the actual cost of searching for and retrieving the data, and making the copies or electronically transmitting the data (e.g. sending the data by email).

In determining the actual cost of making copies, we factor in employee time, the cost of the materials onto which we are copying the data (paper, CD, DVD, etc.), and mailing costs (if any).  If your request is for copies of data that we cannot reproduce ourselves, such as photographs, we will charge you the actual cost we must pay an outside vendor for the copies.