A governmental body does not need to request an attorney general decision if the Open Records Division (ORD) has previously determined the requested information falls under an exception to disclosure. There are two types of previous determinations.
Type 1 Previous Determination – Information Specifically Ruled On Previously
The first type of previous determination requires that all the following criteria be met:
- the information at issue is precisely the same information that was previously submitted to the attorney general pursuant to section 552.301(e)(1)(D) of the Government Code;
- the governmental body that received the request for the information is the same governmental body that previously requested and received a ruling from the attorney general;
- the prior ruling concluded the precise information is or is not excepted from disclosure under the Public Information Act (PIA); and
- the law, facts, and circumstances on which the prior ruling was based have not changed since the issuance of the ruling.
If a situation does not meet the criteria, and if the second type of previous determination also does not apply, a governmental body must request a decision if it wishes to withhold the requested information.
Type 2 Previous Determination – Information that Falls Within a Specific Type of Information
The second type of previous determination requires that all the following criteria be met:
- the information at issue falls within a specific, clearly delineated category of information about which the attorney general has previously rendered a decision;
- the previous decision is applicable to the particular governmental body or type of governmental body from which the information is requested;
- the previous decision concludes the specific, clearly delineated category of information is or is not excepted from disclosure under the PIA;
- the elements of law, fact, and circumstances are met to support the previous decision’s conclusion that the requested records or information at issue is or is not excepted from required disclosure; and
- the previous decision explicitly provides that the governmental body to which the decision applies may withhold the information without the necessity of seeking a decision.
If a situation does not meet the criteria, and if the first type of previous determination also does not apply, a governmental body must request a decision if it wishes to withhold the requested information.
For additional information about previous determinations, please review the detailed information in the Public Information Act Handbook (PDF). When in doubt, a governmental body should timely request a ruling from the ORD to determine whether the requested information is subject to a previous determination.