As a public agency, the University of Northern Iowa is subject to Chapter 22 of the Code of Iowa, entitled “Examination of Public Records (Open Records).” According to the law, “Every person shall have the right to examine and copy a public record and to publish or otherwise disseminate a public record or the information contained in a public record.” “Public records include all records, documents, tape or other information, stored or preserved in any medium.” Records classified as confidential records in Chapter 22.7 of the Code of Iowa must be kept confidential unless ordered to be released by a court. Persons may view records in person, or they may receive copies of records. Requests for records can be made in person, by telephone, by written request, or by email. Persons are not required to provide a reason for requesting a record and they cannot be required to make their request for records in writing. Persons may be charged for the cost of supervising the examination of records. They may also be charged for locating physical records or obtaining records from an electronic database and for redacting confidential information and for providing photocopies. Public agencies ordinarily provide copies of public records within ten business days.
As a “best practice,” the Board of Regents, State of Iowa appointed a Transparency Officer for each university and the special schools. Transparency Officers have four duties related to open records:
- Keep a central log of all public records requests.
- Maintain copies of any redacted information.
- Post to their website the public records requests received.
- Create and release a quarterly report tabulating numerically the media and public requests and dispositions.