Question:  Are job applications public records?

Answer:  The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in April 1988 that under a 1984 amendment to Chapter 22 public agencies can make job applications confidential.

In City of Sioux Ciaty v. Greater Sioux City Press Club, 421 N.W.2d 895 (Iowa 1988), a five-member panel of the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that such confidentiality is provided for in subsection 18 of 22.7.

The Court ruled that job applications might be made confidential if the person so requests or if the public agency “could reasonably believe that those persons would be discouraged” from applying if applications were available for public inspection.

While subsection 18 does not provide confidentiality for communications required by law, rule or procedure, the Court stated that job applications were not required as part of the hiring process since the job applicant is applying voluntarily.

In an August 1992 decision, Des Moines Register and Tribune Company v. State Board of Regents and Douglas Cramer, Polk County Judge Arthur Gamble ruled that a private firm that had conducted a presidential search for Iowa State University was wrong in keeping secret the names of candidates who had no objections to disclosure.

To summarize, a communication to a government body can be kept confidential under 22.7(18) only if all of the following exist:

(1) The communication is not required by law, rule, procedure, or contract.

(2) It is from identified persons outside of government.

(3) The government body could reasonably believe those persons would be discouraged from communicating with government if the information was made public.

Nevertheless, the information should be released if the person communicating with government consents to its release or if it can be released without identifying the person.

In addition, a communication regarding an illegal act can be kept confidential if disclosing it would jeopardize a continuing investigation or pose a clear and present danger to the safety of an individual.

(Excerpted from the IPIB website FAQs,

Facts and Figures for June 2015 and for 2015 year-to-date:

During the month of June 2015, 74 contacts were made with the Iowa Public Information Board office.

TYPE                                           June 2015                                2015 Year-To-Date       

Formal complaints                              15                                                        57                            

Formal opinions                                   0                                                          5                             

Declaratory orders                               0                                                          0         

Informal complaints                           10                                                         78               

Informal requests                               48                                                       279         

Miscellaneous                                     1                                                            9

TOTALS:                                          74                                                        428