The Texas Public Information Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 552) gives the public the right to request access to government information. All government information is presumed to be available to the public; however, certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information.
What is an “open records request”?
An open records request is a written request for public information contained in the files or records of a Texas government agency, including the Credit Union Department. Public information is any information collected, assembled, maintained under a law or in connection with the transaction of official business by a governmental body, or for a governmental body if the governmental body owns the information or has a right of access to it. To be public information, it cannot be confidential under law or exempt from disclosure by the Public Information Act.
An open records or public information request must be for inspection or copies of an existing document or record. We are not required to generate a new document in order to respond to a request. Public information requests are governed by the Texas Public Information Act. For more information related to public information requests, please visit the Attorney General’s Website.
How do I request public information?
To request public information from us, the request must be in writing and must be mailed, hand-delivered, faxed, or e=mailed to us as follows”
|Hand-delivered and mailed requests:||Public Information Coordinator
Credit Union Department
914 E. Anderson Lane
Austin, Texas 78752-1699
|Fax requests:||(512) 823-0278|
What should I include in my request?
Complete contact information is essential, so please be sure to include your name, address, and telephone number. This contact information is particularly important if you submit an email request. Describe the documents that you desire and be specific. If you do not know exactly what documents may be involve, describe the information you are seeking as specifically as possible, and we will determine if responsive documents exist. If your description is not clear or could result in a very large number of documents, we will contact you to determine if the request can be clarified or narrowed. You may disclose your purpose to us if you believe that knowledge will help us locate the documents you seek, but this disclosure is not requested or required. We are prohibited by law from asking you the purpose of your request.
How long will it take to answer my request?
We will respond to a request for clearly public information as promptly as is reasonably possible, but not later than 10 business days after we receive the request. If you have a particular need for expedited treatment, we will attempt to meet that need but we cannot guarantee an early response date.
Is there any information maintained by the Department that I cannot inspect or obtain a copy?
Most of the information maintained by the Department is confidential by federal or state law (Texas Finance Code, Texas Government Code, Texas Administrative Code) and we are prohibited from disclosing. In addition to the mandatory confidentiality provision, the Public Information Act itself provides certain exceptions to disclosure. If we withhold information that we consider to be confidential by law, the Department is required to request an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General on the propriety of not disclosing the information, unless an opinion specifically dealing with the same information has previously been issued. The requestor will receive a copy of any correspondence requesting an opinion and the Attorney General’s response. The requestor is entitled to submit a response to the Attorney General if he/she disagrees with our decision. Examples of confidential information are (but not limited to):
- Information related to a credit union’s financial condition or business affairs
- Information which might jeopardize an ongoing investigation of potentially unlawful activities
- Information contained in or relating to an examination report of a credit union
- Confidential information obtained in a credit union’s application for a charter
Will personal information that I provide to the Department be disclosed?
Our policy is to respect an individual’s right to privacy to the extent permitted by the exceptions, both mandatory and discretionary, set forth in the Finance Code and the Government Code. Items that will be disclosed only to the extent necessary to (1) comply with the law, or (2) resolve your complaint:
- Your name and address
- Specific public information you request
- Details of a complaint you submit
In attempting to resolve a complaint, we may disclose the details of your complaint to another governmental agency, and to the credit union that is the subject of the complaint, but only to the extent we feel is necessary to enable us to obtain needed information. If you wish us not to disclose the information outside of the Department, we will respect your wishes if they are made known to us. However, you should be aware that it may not be possible to resolve your complaint under these circumstances. We will not disclose personal information for which the public has no particular cognizable interest, including:
- Your social security number,
- Your credit union account numbers,
- Details of a specific financial transaction, unless the Attorney General concludes in an opinion that the requested information does not in fact contain such intimate details. If you are concerned about the possibility of disclosure of certain information, please discuss the matter with us before submitting your request or complaint.
What does it cost to receive public information?
The permissible charges for public information are set by the Office of Attorney General and may be found at 1 TAC Sections 70.1 ex seq, also 7 TAC Section 97.114. In general, if the number of copies in your request is 50 or less, the charge will be $0.10 per page plus the cost of postage (or other delivery method, at your request): if more than 50 page, the charge will be $0.10 per page plus personal costs necessary to compile the documents at a rate of $18 per hour, in addition to the charge for postage. If the estimated cost of fulfilling your request exceeds $100, the Department will notify you and require a reasonable deposit be received by the Department prior to processing your request.
When do I pay for the information provided?
We do not ask for payment if the total of charges is less than $10.00. We may alter this general rule in certain circumstances, although typically not by a significant amount. If you are concerned about the cost of a request, please feel free to contact us. If the estimated costs exceed $40.00, an itemized written estimate of the cost will be provided.
You must respond in writing within 10 business days after the date the estimate is sent either accepting the cost or amending your request. If no response is received, your request will be considered withdrawn.
After your response, if it appears the actual cost will be more than 20% above the estimate previously given, we will again notify you by providing a “revised written estimate”. Again, if you do not respond within 10 days, your request will be considered withdrawn.
If actual charges exceed $40.00, you will not have to pay more than the estimate contained in the last “revised written estimate” that you accepted. If only the initial itemized written estimate was provided and accepted, your cost will not exceed 120% of the initial estimate. If itemized charges exceed $40.00 and we did not provide you with an itemized written estimate of charges, your bill will not exceed $40.00.
We normally will provide the requested documents prior to payment and invoice you for the charges. If the estimated costs exceed $100 and we have provided you with the written estimate described above, we may require that you provide a deposit in that amount prior to fulfilling your request. If you have an unpaid invoice from a previous request, you will be required to pay the present request in full prior to delivery. In addition, if previous unpaid invoices exceed $100, we will require a deposit equal to the previous unpaid invoices before we prepare a response to the present request.