Examination of Public Records
Chapters 21 and 22 of the Iowa Code — the open meetings and records or “sunshine” laws — attempt to ensure that Iowa government at all levels is as transparent and accountable to the public as possible.
Public records are all records, in any form, “of or belonging to” a government body or official. Every person has the right to examine, copy and disseminate a public record, unless it falls under the limited exceptions spelled out in Ch. 22.7 or another law. Records custodians are required to respond to requests made in person, in writing, by telephone or electronically. Government bodies are allowed to charge “reasonable” fees for fulfilling records requests, but Ch. 22.3 says the fee can’t exceed the actual costs incurred in providing the service.
A sample public records request letter can be found here. In submitting a request for a public record, try to be as specific as possible and work with the record custodian to ensure that you receive the information you are seeking. Ch. 22.8 allows a “good faith, reasonable” delay in fulfilling a request in some circumstances, but the delay shall not exceed 20 calendar days and ordinarily should not exceed 10 business days.
Chapter 22, PDF version