It is mandatory for a governmental body to withhold confidential information from public disclosure. However, a governmental body has discretion to withhold other requested information. So what does this mean?
A governmental body is required to withhold certain types of information by statute. If information is confidential by statute, a governmental body generally cannot release the requested information. Here is a list of common types of information that is confidential by law.
- Dates of birth of living persons
- Driver’s license numbers
- License plate numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Insurance policy numbers
- Juvenile offender records
- Child abuse investigations
- Peace officer’s home address
- Peace officer’s family member information
A governmental body has the option to withhold non-confidential information in certain circumstances. In other words, a governmental body is not required to withhold requested information, but it may use its discretion to withhold the information. Here is a list of common types of information a governmental body may choose to withhold.
- Attorney-Client communications
- Drafts of policymaking documents
- Information related to pending litigation
- Audit working papers
- Competitive bidding information before contract awarded
In either circumstance, a governmental is generally required to seek a ruling from OAG unless there is a previous determination allowing the governmental to withhold the type of information it seeks to withhold. Further, if a governmental body has previously released information voluntarily that is not confidential by law, the governmental body cannot claim a discretionary exception to withhold the previously released information. Review our Public Information Act Handbook (PDF) for more information on exceptions to disclosure.