Freedom of Information
“It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that the electors shall be advised of the performance of public officials and of the decisions that are reached in public activity and in making public policy.” – Arkansas Freedom of Information Act of 1967
Open and responsive government is one of the guiding principles of a democratic society and it is one of the City of Little Rock’s foremost obligations to its citizens. The City of Little Rock follows all State and Federal Laws that regulate how municipalities must conduct their business and make information available to the citizens. These laws include: The Federal Privacy Act; The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA); and The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
Arkansas Freedom of Information Act
The State Laws that regulate the transparency of city governments in Arkansas are part of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. On February 14, 1967, the State of Arkansas adopted the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, which sets forth rules that cities (including their commissions, utilities and other enterprises) must obey, regarding how they conduct their meetings, make public policy, store public records and make records available to the public.
Since the Act’s inception, the Arkansas Attorney General and the Arkansas Supreme Court have helped to interpret this law many times. The Attorney General frequently issues official opinions to questions from State Legislators and other officials about how the Act should be interpreted in certain circumstances. The Arkansas Supreme Court has also ruled many times when cases have been brought before the court regarding the Act. This has helped define the Act and the expectations of the state regarding the openness of City Governments in Arkansas. The City of Little Rock complies not only with the original Act of 1967, as amended, but also with the Attorney General opinions and case law on the Act.
How to Make a Request
Citizens of Arkansas may make a Freedom of Information request in person, by phone, by e-mail, by fax or by mail. Citizens seeking information should indicate to a City of Little Rock staff person that they are requesting information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. Documents will be provided to the person making request in accordance with the state Freedom of Information Act. While a request may be made to any City employee, all requests for information are routed through the City Attorney’s Office to ensure that all State and Federal guidelines are followed before any information is released.
For more information
Citizens may learn more by the Freedom of Information Act by visiting the sites listed below:
Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (full text) -https://static.ark.org/eeuploads/ag/Arkansas-Freedom-of-Information-Act.pdf
Arkansas Attorney General’s Opinions - http://www.arkansasag.gov/opinions/index.php
Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion - http://opinions.aoc.arkansas.gov/WebLink8/Welcome.aspx
Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook (available in PDF) - https://static.ark.org/eeuploads/ag/APA-FOI-Handbook-15th-Edition.pdf