Guide for the General Public Requesting Data
The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, per Minn. Stat. § 13, gives everyone the right to inspect (look at) and have copies of public data that state agencies keep. This guide explains how to use these rights at DEED.
Your Right to Access Public Data
The law presumes that all government data are public unless a state or federal law says the data are not public. "Government data" means all recorded information a government entity has, including paper, email, CD-ROMs, photographs, etc.
We must keep all government data in a way that makes it easy for you, as a member of the public, to access public data. You have the right to inspect—free of charge—all public data that we keep. You also have the right to get copies of public data, but we are allowed to charge for copies.
How to Make a Data Request
To look at data or to request copies of data that DEED keeps, you must make a written request to DEED's responsible authority. You may use the Request to Inspect and/or Copy Government Data form. If you choose not to use the form, your written request should include:
- A statement that you, as a member of the public, are making a request for data under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minn. Stat. § 13.
- Whether you would like to look at the data, get copies of the data, or both.
- A clear description of the data you would like to inspect or have copied.
DEED cannot require you to identify yourself or explain the reason for your data request. However, depending on how you want us to process your request (if, for example, you want us to mail you copies of data), we may need some information about you. Also keep in mind that if we do not understand your request and have no way to contact you, we will not be able to begin processing your request. If you choose not to give us any identifying information, we will provide you with contact information so you may check on the status of your request.
How We Respond to a Data Request
Upon receiving your written request, we will work to process it:
- If we do not have the data, we will notify you in writing as soon as reasonably possible.
- If we have the data, but the data are not public, we will notify you in writing as soon as reasonably possible and state which specific law says the data are not public.
- If we have the data, and the data are public, we will respond to your request appropriately and promptly, within a reasonable amount of time, by doing one of the following:
- Arrange a date, time, and place to inspect data, for free, if your request is to look at the data, or
- Provide you with copies of the data as soon as reasonably possible. You may choose to pick up your copies, or we will mail or fax them to you. If you want us to send you the copies, you will need to provide us with an address or fax number. We will provide electronic copies (such as email or CD-ROM) upon request if we keep the data in electronic format.
- We may charge a fee for providing copies:
- Information that is produced for public distribution (such as brochures, annual reports, etc.) is generally free. However, DEED is authorized by Minn. Stat. § 116J.63 to sell marketing material, at cost, when quantities of material originally paid for by the general fund are requested.
- For public data not prepared for public distribution:
- For copies of 100 or fewer pages of black-and-white letter- or legal-sized paper copies, you must pay:
- $.25 for each page
- $.50 for a two-sided copy
- For copies of other data (more than 100 black/white paper copies; or any color copies, photographs, etc.), you must pay the actual cost for employee time to search for and retrieve the data; and the cost to make copies.
- There is an additional fee for providing copies of data that have commercial value, providing data in a different form or arrangement, creating data, and preparing summary data. Summary data are statistical records or reports that are prepared by removing all identifiers from private or confidential data on individuals. The preparation of summary data is not a means to gain access to private or confidential data. We may agree to prepare summary data if you make your request in writing and pre-pay for the cost of creating the data. Upon receiving your written request, we will respond as promptly as possible, providing the data or details of when the data will be ready and how much we will charge.
- Payment must be made before copies are provided.
- If you do not understand some of the data (technical terminology, abbreviations, or acronyms), let us know; we will give you an explanation.
We are not required to create or collect new data in response to a data request if we do not already have the data, or to provide data in a specific form or arrangement if we do not keep the data in that form or arrangement (for example, if the data you request are only on paper, we are not required to create electronic documents to respond to your request). If we agree to create data in response to your request, we will work with you on the details of your request, including cost and response time. In addition, we are not required to answer questions that are not requests for data.