You Oughta Know

How to request copies of public officials’ e-mails under the Kansas Open Records Act

Each Monday, The Eagle highlights a government record that is available to the public. Open records help people keep government in check and help them better understand how government affects their lives.

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The record: E-mails sent and received by public officials from their office accounts.

Why you’d want them: To learn more about what officials are saying behind the scenes. Some e-mails are off-limits. For example, you won’t be able to get e-mails about a criminal investigation or about personnel matters. But curious what your child’s principal is telling others about a new policy or what commissioners are saying about the county budget? Find out by filing a request for e-mails under the Kansas Open Records Act.

Where you get it: File your request with the entity’s records custodian. Be specific about what you want. For example, ask for e-mails exchanged among city council members about “X” development over a three-month time period.

How much does it cost: The cost will vary depending on what you’re looking for and how long it will take to retrieve the e-mails. You are entitled to a breakdown of costs.

Deb Gruver