How to make a public records request
State statutes (Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-712, et seq.) provide the right to examine public records “of and belonging to” the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK).
What’s a public record?
Public records include all records and documents, regardless of physical form, of or belonging to “a state agency, a county, city or other governmental bodies listed in the statute.” Records include, but are not limited to, printouts, electronic data, discs, tapes, and photocopies.
Public records request responsibility
To ensure compliance with, and consistency of response, public records requests will be processed through UNK’s Assistant Vice Chancellor of Communications and Community Relations and reviewed by the Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Executive Affairs and UNK’s Records Official.
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No specific language is required for a public records request. However, any request should be submitted in writing with a clear description of records sought.
- Email submission is preferred. Email your request to Asst. Vice Chancellor for Communications and Community Relations, Kelly Bartling, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- If submitted by mail, the request should be addressed to: Kelly Bartling, Communications and Community Relations, Founders Hall 2118, 905 West 25th St., Kearney, NE 68849-1220 (Direct Line: 308-865-8455; Fax: 308-865-8102).
- Should a requestor, because of disability, be unable to provide a request in writing, UNK will provide accommodate as required by federal law, by accepting a different reasonable means of communicating the request.
- A reply must be made within four business days after actual receipt of the request. If the request is submitted electronically, the date of receipt shall be the date that the employee opens the electronic file.
- The four business days after actual receipt do not include the first day of receipt of the written request. For example, a written request for records received on Monday would require a response by Friday.
- If a copy of a public record is available on the Internet then the custodian is not required to copy the record, unless the requestor does not have access to the Internet.
- The statutes allow the response to take one of three forms: (1) a grant of the request by providing the records, (2) a denial of the request, citing the legal reasons for the denial, or (3) a communication that the request cannot be reasonably fulfilled within the standard four days due to some difficulty or the “voluminous” nature of the records requested (Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-712 (4)(c)). When an entire request cannot with reasonable good faith efforts be fulfilled within four business days after actual receipt of the request, a written explanation, including the earliest practicable date for fulfilling the request, an estimate of the expected cost of any copies and special service labor charge (in excess of the first four cumulative hours spent searching, identifying, physically redacting, or copying records), and an opportunity for the requester to modify or prioritize the items within the requests. The requester shall have 10 business days to review the estimated costs, including and special service charge, and request the custodian to fulfill the original request, negotiate with the records custodian to narrow or simplify the request, or withdraw the request. If the requester does not respond to the records custodian within 10 business days, the records custodian shall not proceed to fulfill the request.
Upon approval, the response will be sent to the requestor. The preferred method of transmittal will be by email, with the response and documents (if included) converted to a PDF format.
When the requestor does not provide an email address the response will be sent by mail.
The following charges may be invoiced when sending the documents to the requestor:
- 25 cents for each copy sized 8 1/2 x 11 or smaller with double-sided copies counting as 2 pages
- 50 cents for each copy for legal size
- Actual cost for each copy of a larger than legal size page (i.e. engineering drawing, etc.)
UNK may charge for staff salary associated with fulfilling the request (retrieval, compiling data, etc.). Pursuant to the Act, however, the cost will not include the first 4 hours of salary for the employee identifying or copying the records.
Information Technology Services
Some requests may require computer run time and any necessary analysis and programming for fulfillment. As such, costs related to programming, extracting, compiling, displaying data will vary on a case-by-case basis.
External Contractor Services
UNK will charge for actual costs incurred, whether they are higher or lower than the estimated costs approved by the requestor.
If the cost of fulfilling a request exceeds $50, UNK is permitted to require a deposit before beginning necessary processes associated with responding to the request.
Responses to public records requests shall be retained in accordance with the University's Records Retention and Disposition Schedules. Denials of requests for records and documents shall be retained permanently.