The Texas Public Information Act (Act) provides the public the right to request access to government information. Below is a description of the basic procedures and the rights and responsibilities of the requester and the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (Board) under the Act.
Making a RequestThe Act provides the public with access to government information upon a valid request. The request must ask for information already in existence. The Act does not require the Board to create new information, to do legal research, or to answer questions. In preparing a request, a requester should:
- Ask the Board what information is available
- Include enough description and detail of the information that the requester wants so that the Board can accurately identify and locate the information
- Include a phone number so that the Board may contact the requester if the Board has questions
- Include a mailing address if the requester wishes to have the copies mailed to him/her
A request may be submitted in writing via mail, fax, e-mail or in person to Open Records, Texas State Board of Pharmacy. You may send your request to:
mail: 333 Guadalupe, Suite 3-500, Austin, Texas 78701
fax: (512) 305-8008
in-person: 333 Guadalupe, Suite 3-500, Austin, Texas 78701
In order to facilitate the delivery of the information, the requester must cooperate with the Board's reasonable requests for clarification of the type or amount of information requested. Additionally, the requester must respond promptly in writing to all written communications from the Board.
A copy of the information may be mailed if requested or the requester may review the information at a mutually acceptable time. Once a requester has been notified that the information is available, an appointment will be scheduled to inspect information or pick up copies. If the requester fails to attend, they may lose the opportunity to the access the information. If the information cannot be produced with 10 business days, the Board will notify the requester of the reasonable date when it will be available.
Charges to the Requester
If a request is for copies of information, then the Board may charge for the copies. If a request is only for an opportunity to inspect information, then generally the Board may not impose a charge on the requester. However, under certain circumstances the Board may impose a charge for access to information. All charges imposed by the Board for copies or for access to information must comply with the Texas Building and Procurement Commission's (TBPC) rules.
Requesters must respond to any written estimate of charges within ten days of the estimate or the request may be deemed withdrawn. The Board may request a bond, prepayment, or deposit if estimated costs exceed $100.00. Requesters are obligated to make a timely payment for all mutually agreed charges. The Board may require payment of overdue balances exceeding $100.00, or obtain a security deposit, before processing subsequent requests from the same requester.
Exceptions to the Act (Withholding of Information)
Although the Act makes most government information available to the public, some exceptions exist. If an exception might apply and the Board wishes to withhold the information, then the Board will, within ten business days of receiving the open records request, refer the matter to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for a ruling regarding whether an exception applies. If the OAG rules that an exception applies, the Board will not release the information.
Rights of Requesters
All persons who request public information have the right to:
- Receive treatment equal to all other requesters
- Receive a statement of estimated charges in advance
- Choose whether to inspect the requested information, receive copies of the information, or both
- Be notified when the Board asks the OAG for a ruling on whether the information may or must be withheld pursuant to an exception to the Act
- Lodge a complaint with TBPC regarding any improper charges for responding to a public information request
- Lodge a complaint with the OAG Hotline or the county attorney or criminal district attorney regarding any alleged violation of the Act
Responsibilities of the Board
The Board has the responsibility to:
- Treat all requesters equally
- Be informed about the Act and educate employees on those requirements
- Inform the requester of cost estimates and any changes to the estimates
- Confirm that the requester agrees to pay the costs before incurring the costs
- Provide requested information promptly
- Inform the requester if the information will not be provided within ten business days and give an estimated date on which it will be provided
- Cooperate with the requester in scheduling a time for inspecting or copying information
- Follow the TBPC regulations on charges; not overcharge on any items; not bill for items that must be provided without charge
- Inform third parties if their proprietary information is being requested from the Board
- Request an OAG ruling regarding whether any information may or must be withheld pursuant to an exception to the Act
- Inform the requester when the OAG has been asked to rule whether any information may or must be withheld
- Comply with any OAG ruling on whether an exception applies, or file suit against the OAG within 30 days
- Respond in writing to all written communications from the TBPC or the OAG regarding complaints about violations of the Act
Questions or Complaints
To reach the OAG's Open Government Hotline, call toll free (877) 673-6839. The Hotline staff answers questions about the proper procedures for using and complying with the Act. The Hotline staff assists both governmental bodies and requesters. The Hotline also accepts written complaints about alleged violations of the Act. If a complaint relates to charges, contact the TBPC at (512) 475-2497. Certain violations fo the Act involve possible criminal penalties, and those items should be reported to the county attorney or criminal district attorney.