As Harris County Law Library celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it’s important to note that FOIA only applies to federal records. Information about Texas state governmental bodies may be requested under a different series of state laws known as The Texas Public Information Act (PIA). Formerly known as the Texas Open Records Act, PIA was enacted in 1973 in the wake of a series of high-profile government scandals. The text of the statute may be read at Texas Government Code, Chapter 552. Its opening section at 552.001 contains a powerful statement of principle:
The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
Information on submitting a PIA request can be found on the Harris County website. For requests to the Office of the Harris County Attorney or complaints regarding a failure to release public information, please visit the website of the Harris County Attorney’s Office.