Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, gives you the right to access government records; and an officer for public information and the officer's agent may not ask why you want them.  All government information is presumed to be available to the public.  Certain exceptions may apply to the disclosure of the information.  Governmental bodies shall promptly release requested information that is not confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision, or information for which an exception to disclosure has not been sought.


The Texas Public Information Act (Texas Open Records Act), Chapter 552, Texas Government Code, establishes requirements for governmental bodies to respond to written requests for access and/or reproductions of public information. Charges for reproductions are governed by the State of Texas Attorney General's Office rules on charges


If you cannot locate the information or records you need online, Section 552.234 of the Texas Public Information Act provides that a person may make a written request for information by delivering the request by U.S. mail, electronic mail, hand delivery, or any appropriate method approved by the governmental body: 

•    United States mail: P.O. Box 689001, Austin, Texas, 78768
•    Electronic mail: public.information@austintexas.gov
•    Hand delivery: City Hall, 4th Floor, 301 W. 2nd Street, Austin, Texas 78701
•    Hand delivery: Austin Police Department Headquarters, 715 E. 8th Street, Austin, Texas 78701
•    City’s online Public Records Center 

Please note that records are not automatically posted online for many reasons, including lack of widespread interest, large size of records, or the fact that records contain confidential information.  

Public Information Request Process

Section 552.221 specifies the duties of the officer for public information upon receiving a request for public information. An officer for public information of a governmental body shall promptly produce public information. The City of Austin has designated 10 business days to release available responsive information.  If it cannot be produced within 10 working days the public information officer will notify you in writing of the reasonable date and time when it will be available.  “Promptly” means that a governmental body may take a reasonable amount of time to produce the information but may not delay.


  • The City of Austin receives your public information request.
  • The appropriate City departments will be assigned to process your request.
  • Departments assigned to the request will begin gathering and reviewing information to promptly provide all the responsive information available.
  • The City of Austin may contact you if any of the following are needed 
    • Clarification, to better understand what information is being requested
    • A possible cost estimate to cover locating, compiling, and redacting the responsive information
    • To notify you of sensitive information the City needs to redact or withhold
  • On the 8th business day, the City of Austin will provide you with a status update for your public information request.
  • Upon completion of the request, the City of Austin will notify you if there is no responsive information or release any responsive information available to you.
Complaints and Important Contact Information

For complaints regarding the public information process you may  contact the Office of the Attorney General , or call the Open Records Hotline at 512-478-6736 or toll-free at 1-877-673-6839

We also encourage you to contact the City of Austin Public Information Manager at 512-978-1870 regarding your public information concerns

Customer Service for City of Austin Open Records:
For questions about COA Public Information Requests (PIR) please email PIRCustomerService@austintexas.gov or call 512-974-2197

Customer Service for City of Austin Police Department Records:
For questions about APD Public Information Requests (PIR) please call 512-974-5212  or  512-974-5499


Cost of Public Information

Section 552.261 - There is no initial fee for submitting a public information request. However, the City of Austin may charge fees for providing a copy of the public information requested.  The charge for providing a copy of public information shall be an amount that reasonably includes all costs related to reproducing the public information, including costs for materials, labor, and overhead. 

Attorney General's Charges for Public Information Presentation

Public Information Act Cost Rules 101


Copy Rates

Governmental bodies shall release requested information as promptly as possible, unless the information is exempt from disclosure under the Public Information Act. The City of Austin uses the rates established by the Office of the Attorney General to determine charges for copies of public records. At the discretion of the staff member responding to a request, fees may be waived when there are a minimal number of responsive documents.


Requests Exceeding $40

If the cost of a request is expected to exceed $40, a staff member will send an estimate letter to the requestor. The letter will include an itemized statement of any copying, personnel or mailing charges that will be incurred in fulfilling the request. Once the requestor confirms that he or she agrees to the estimated costs, a staff member will begin compiling the records. If a requestor does not respond within 10 days, the file will be closed.


Common Charges

  • Paper (single-sided, black and white, standard size) - $0.10 / page
  • Oversize paper, not including maps and photographs - $0.50 / page
  • CD - $1 each
  • Diskette - $1 each
  • Audio cassette - $1 each
  • VHS cassette - $2.50 each
  • DVD - $3 each
  • Off site record retrieval - $45.00 fee
  • Labor Charges
  • Personnel time for locating, compiling and reproducing records (if less than 50 pages of paper copies are requested, no personnel costs are charged) - $15 / hour
  • Computer Programming - $28.50 / hour
  • Overhead - 20% of the personnel or programming charge
Clarification Needed For Your Request

Please include as much detailed information as possible when submitting a public information request. The more detailed information you provide us with, the quicker the department can provide the records to you.

Examples are as follows:

  • Specific date range
  • Specific address
  • Keywords or phrases regarding the information being requested
  • If known select the department the information is being requested from. If not, do not worry as it will be automatically routed.

If you do not provide enough detail in your public information request description of the specific information or records you are requesting, the City of Austin may contact you asking for clarification for the necessary information needed to conduct the search for records. 

What About Confidential Information?

Some public information is confidential by statute. If information is confidential by statute, a governmental body generally cannot release the information under the PIA. Governmental bodies also maintain information that is not confidential by statute. A governmental body has the option to withhold non-confidential information in certain circumstances.

Read more about confidential information on the Attorney General webpage.

Rights of Requestors

You have the right to:

  • Receive prompt access to information that is not confidential or otherwise protected;
  • Receive treatment equal to all other requestors, including accommodation in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements;
  • Receive certain kinds of information without exceptions, like the voting record of public officials, and other information;
  • Choose whether to inspect the requested information (most often at no charge), receive copies of the information or both;
  • A waiver or reduction of charges if the governmental body determines that access to the information primarily benefits the general public;
  • Receive a copy of the communication from the governmental body asking the Office of the Attorney General for a ruling on whether the information can be withheld under one of the accepted exceptions, or if the communication discloses the requested information, a redacted copy;
  • Lodge a written complaint about overcharges for public information with the General Services Commission. Complaints of other possible violations may be filed with the county or district attorney of the county where the governmental body, other than a state agency, is located. If the complaint is against the county or district attorney, the complaint must be filed with the Office of the Attorney General.
Responsibilities of Governmental Bodies

All governmental bodies responding to information requests have the responsibility to:

  • Establish reasonable procedures for inspecting or copying public information and inform requestors of these procedures;
  • Treat all requestors uniformly and shall give to the requestor all reasonable comfort and facility, including accommodation in accordance with ADA requirements;
  • Be informed about open records laws and educate employees on the requirements of those laws;
  • Inform requestors of the estimated charges greater than $40 and any changes in the estimates above 20 percent of the original estimate, and confirm that the requestor accepts the charges, or has amended the request, in writing before finalizing the request;
  • Inform the requestor if the information cannot be provided promptly and set a date and time to provide it within a reasonable time;
  • Request a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General regarding any information the governmental body wishes to withhold, and send a copy of the request for ruling, or a redacted copy, to the requestor;
  • Isolate public information from information that may be withheld and provide that public information promptly;
  • Make a good faith attempt to inform third parties when their proprietary information is being requested from the governmental body;
  • Respond in writing to all written communications from the General Services Commission regarding charges for the information. Respond to the Office of the Attorney General regarding complaints about violations of the Act
Other Helpful Webpages for Obtaining Public Information

Submit A Request for Public Information
Find details about building permits, applications, etc.
Filing A Claim Information
Office of Attorney General Open Government Information
Public Information Act Handbook
City of Austin Open Data Portal
Submit A Service Request to Austin 311
Austin Municipal Court Case/Citation Database
Austin Police Department Webpage 
Austin Police Department Incident Report Database
Austin Police Department Events
Austin Police Department Body Cam Information
Austin Police Department Datasets and Reports
Austin Police Department Crime Information


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Public Information Request Process


Public Information Requests

All government information is presumed to be available to the public, although certain exceptions may apply. You may request public records online by clicking here, or you may email your request to public.information@austintexas.gov. Please note, pursuant to section 552.301(c) of the Government Code, the City of Austin has designated public.information@austintexas.gov as the email address for public information requests sent by electronic mail. A request sent by email will not be considered received unless sent to the designated email address.


Data Portal

The data portal is your open government resource. The data portal's benefits include: transparency, user-friendly data presentation and opportunities for community app development.