Public Information Act
The Maryland Public Information Act was reformed in 2015. The Press Association was at the forefront of that effort. Please click here for an explanation of what changed.
The Attorney General's office, upon request, will provide training to interested groups.
Many public bodies require a formal request for public records. Although there is no required format, please see our sample request letter for information that you may want to include.
Filing a Complaint
The PIA Compliance Board has developed procedures to file a complaint. All complaints must be related to fees and meet a threshold of $350. The complaint procedures are found here.
As part of the reform of 2015, the Attorney General will hire an ombudsman with the express purpose of mediating requests between records custodians and requesters. Lisa A. Kershner, Esq. has been selected as the Ombudsman and will begin work in late March. To request the assistance of the ombudsman in your request, please click here.
Office of the Attorney General
Attn: Lisa Kershner, Public Access Ombudsman
200 St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD. 21202
Phone: (410) 576-7037
Click here for the link to webinar of Ms. Kershner's first public comments about the Ombudsman role (April 2016)
As part of the reform of 2015, a Compliance Board was named. This Board will review fee complaints for requests. The members are:
Christopher Eddings – Nongovt Nonprofit Rep.
Deborah F. Moore-Carter – Custodian Knowledge/Experience
Rene C. Swafford – Private Citizen (Attorney)
John H. West Private Citizen – CHAIR
Darren Wigfield – Private Citizen
Minutes from PIA Compliance Board meetings can be found at their website.
Annual reports: September 2016
Open meetings are a critical piece of government transparency. The Attorney General's office has prepared an online manual for Open Meetings (updated 2015)
The Attorney General's office has developed free, online training which helps public officials, reporters and citzens understand Maryland's Open Meetings law. The training takes about 2 hours to complete. Currently, at least one person from each public body is required to be trained in Open Meetings law.
Filing a Complaint
If you feel a violation of Open Meetings has occured, please file a complaint with the Open Meetings Compliance Board. Please be as specific as you can, listing the public body involved, the type of violation you believe has occured and other details. Often, the Board makes its determination based on the information provided in the Complaint and the information provided by the public body. Complaints are accepted via email at OpenGov@oag.state.md.us or by mail. Please click here for more information from the Attorney General's office about filing a complaint.
The Attorney General's office provides a website for the Open Meetings Compliance Board. The FAQs are the quickest way to navigate for specific issues. The Manual is pretty detailed, but the chapter summaries should help; also, the chapter numbers are keyed into the topic index to the board’s opinions, which illustrate the principles. (Chapter 2, Notice = Index Topic 2, Notice, leading to the Board’s opinions on the variations of that theme). Using this methodology, it should be pretty straightforward to look up what the Compliance Board has said on a particular issue. For the board’s opinions on a particular public body, use the search function.
Recently posted Opinions from OCMB:
2015 Vol. 10 Official Opinions of the Open Meetings Compliance Board, posted May 26, 2016
2013-2014 Vol. 9 Official Opinions of the Open Meetings Compliance Board, posted October 28, 2015
Annual Reports: 2015 Annual Report, 2016 Report
In the news
MDDC compiles news clippings of interest about matters concerning the public information act, open meetins and body cameras.
Maryland - PIA (includes Body-worn Camera)
Maryland - Open Meetings
The Press Association, along with other advocacy groups, believes that more work is needed to ensure transparency in government and inform citizens. See our Advocacy page for our most recent positions and initiatives.
Please use the links to navigate to common public records, where to find them and how to use them.
State Agencies and Public Bodies
As of 2015, all state agencies must list their Public Information Officer on their website to enable citizens to more easily access contact information for public records requests. Please click here for contact and web information for many of the state agencies and public bodies in Maryland.
The Press Association is available as a resource to help navigate public records and open meetings. For members, we also offer a Legal Hotline that can offer legal advice. Please contact Rebecca Snyder for more information.