IPIB Monthly Column
June 8, 2022
Margaret Johnson, Executive Director

QUESTION: How much time does a government body have to produce a requested record?

ANSWER: Chapter 22 is silent as to the time for response to a records request. The time to locate a record can vary considerably depending on the specificity of the request, the number of potentially responsive documents, the age of the documents, the location of the documents, and whether documents are stored electronically. The large number of variable factors affecting response time makes it very difficult, and probably unwise, to establish any hard and fast objective standards. The statute was adopted more than forty years ago. Today’s electronic records environment adds to the complexity of this issue.

The Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB) recently filed a rule request that would provide some guidance on the time allowed to respond to a record request. In most instances, the record custodian must acknowledge the receipt of a record request within 2 days of receiving the request and provide a means of communication between the requestor and the record custodian.

The intent of the rule is to establish a line of communication and facilitate faster responses to record requests. A copy of the proposed rule can be received by contacting the IPIB office at IPIB@iowa.gov or by calling 515-725-1782.

Comments concerning the proposed rule can be made to Hannah Fordyce (hannah.fordyce@iowa.gov) no later than July 11, 2022. A public hearing for the rule modification is set for July 11, 2022, at 3 p.m. at the IPIB office.

Did You Know that the Iowa Public Information Board staff is available to assist you with questions or problems involving open meetings and public records in Iowa? During the month of May 2022, 61 contacts were made with the Iowa Public Information Board office.

May 2022:

Formal complaints - 17

Advisory opinions - 1

Declaratory orders  - 0

Informal complaints - 7

Informal requests - 26

Miscellaneous - 10


Who can contact the IPIB and how long does it take? Any person can contact the IPIB for assistance by telephone (515-725-1781), by email, or on the IPIB website. In 2022, 304 identifiable people contacted the IPIB. Of these, 203 were private citizens, 73 were government officials or employees, and 28 were members of the media. In 2022, 68% of the incoming contacts were resolved the first day, 14% were resolved in one to five days, and 18% were resolved in six or more days. Opinions, rulings, FAQs, reports, and training documents are available on the IPIB website – www.ipib.iowa.gov.