Maryland's Public Information Act (MPIA) Requests for Public Information
The Maryland Public Information Act (the “Act”), gives the public the right to review and obtain copies of disclosable public records, except to the extent the records are protected from release because they fall within a statutorily recognized exemption to the law. Disclosable public records are only those made or received by a unit of state government in connection with the transaction of public business. In addition, the Act does not require Salisbury University to answer informational questions or to create a record to satisfy a request. Your correspondence to the University making a request is itself a public record and may be asked for by other requesters, along with the University’s response.
The Act is found in the General Provisions Article, §§4-101 through 4-601, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, and accessible through the Maryland State Law Library.
The Maryland Office of the Attorney General provides a Public Information Act Manual which contains the law itself, along with narrative descriptions of the manner in which the law applies to different types of requests. The Manual is available to the public on-line, and provides meaningful assistance to members of the public and records custodians. The table of contents and access to the complete Manual are available online.
Policy of Proactive Disclosure Related to Public Information Requests
- Pursuant to the Annotated Code of Maryland, General Provisions Articles (“GP”), Section 4-104, Salisbury University has adopted a policy of proactive disclosure of public records that are available to members of the public for immediate inspection. Numerous records are available at no cost and without redaction throughout the Salisbury University website. Users may use the website’s Search function to locate specific records.
- The following links contain frequently requested records, policies and information:
How to Submit a Request
To Submit an Electronic Request
To make your request electronically, please submit a request at firstname.lastname@example.org
To Submit a Physical Request
To make your request physically, please mail your request to:
Public Information Act Officer
Office of the General Counsel
1101 Camden Avenue, Bldg. C-1
Salisbury, MD 21801
Your request must provide the following;
- Specify the records that you are requesting
- Telephone number
- Email address
If you are a Salisbury University student or alumnus requesting a copy of your transcript, please contact the Office of the Registrar.
Information for Requestors and Processing of Requests
- To review or obtain copies of Salisbury University records, a request must be made in writing pursuant to the Act.
- Requests can be received only when the University is open. The date of receipt is the date used for processing the inquiry. Upon receipt, the University will perform a preliminary assessment of the request to determine if the University is the appropriate custodian of the records. The University will also review the request for completeness.
- Disclosable public records are only those made or received by a unit of state government in connection with the transaction of public business.
- If the request is unclear or unreasonably broad, the University may ask that the requestor clarify or narrow the request. Overbroad requests incur high costs for the requestor.
- The Act is not an automatic disclosure process; requests may be denied pursuant to the Act.
- The University will reject requests for student directory information when sought for a commercial purpose or for other reasons exempted by either the Act or the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- In the procurement context, requests for the following will be denied: line-item pricing, unit price information, a successful bidder’s customer list, evaluation forms and/or score sheets, biographical data on key employees and trade secrets.
- In the research context, specific details of on-going research projects will not be disclosed.
- The Act, § 4-330 provides, “If the official custodian has adopted rules or regulations that define sociological information … a custodian shall deny inspection of the part of a public record which contains sociological information …” Thus, the University’s Policy on Public Records Containing Sociological Information defines the conditions under which Sociological Information shall be excluded from inspection and disclosure as part of a public record under Maryland’s Public Information Act.
- Correspondence to the University making a request may itself be a public record and can be requested by others, along with the University’s response.
- The University will respond as efficiently as possible based on factors including the availability of records, the complexity of the request, the volume of materials involved, the number of requests in the time required to review the material for possible redactions to protect the privacy rights of students or employees or other information deemed confidential under federal or state law.
Search and Preparation Fees
- The Act § 4-206, permits the University to charge for the search, preparation, legal review, and reproduction of a public record to be made available for inspection—excluding the first two hours of work. We encourage requestors to be explicit and precise when drafting their requests.
- To offer the most efficient customer service, the University requires payment for any estimated amount due before the work is performed. The search, preparation and copying process will begin upon receipt of the total estimated fee. If the actual fee differs from the estimate, the fee will be adjusted accordingly, and the requestor will receive an additional bill or refund as appropriate.
- Make money orders or checks payable to “Salisbury University” and send it to the Office of General Counsel at the address above. The Office of the General Counsel does not accept cash, credit cards, or PayPal.
- If the University does not receive payment within fifteen (15) calendar days from the date of our reply, we will presume that the requestor is no longer interested in pursuing the request and we will close the file accordingly. Thereafter, a new request must be submitted.
- If a requestor feels that the University has imposed an unreasonable fee (more than $350) to produce the responsive documents, the requestor may seek assistance from the State Public Information Act Compliance Board (GP §4-1A-01 et seq).
- Persons who disagree with any response to a PIA request, may seek review of the decision in accordance with § 4-362 of the PIA.
- Comments or questions for the University may be directed to email@example.com
- Requestors who disagree with any response to a request may seek review of the decision in accordance with §4-362 of the Act. In addition, they may seek assistance from the Public Access Ombudsperson under GP §4-1B-01, et seq.
Public Information Act Contact
Karen A. Treber
Office of the General Counsel
1101 Camden Avenue, Bldg. C-1
Salisbury, Maryland 21801
Internet Address: www.salisbury.edu
Information for University Units
- If a staff or faculty member receives a request for documents, do not respond to the request. If someone would like to file a request, please direct them to the Office of General Counsel website.
- Regardless of whether the request specifically cites Freedom of Information Act (FOIA, the federal equivalent) or Public Information Act (PIA), immediately forward the request to the Office of General Counsel.
- The University has ten (10) business days to acknowledge a request and a limited amount of time to provide records after a request is received, so acting promptly is important.
- Email messages and voice mail messages created during the transaction of public business are owned by the University and included in the definition of “public record.” This includes records created or housed on personal devices (mobile phones, tablets, email accounts, laptops etc.)
- Contact the Office of General Counsel (ext. 82331) with any questions.