Universities, Hospitals and Other Publicly Funded Institutions are Often Subject to FOIA Laws

Publicly funded organizations often must comply with state freedom of information laws.  For example:

  • ESPN reported in October that a Florida judge ordered the release of documents related to cheating by Florida State University football players. While the decision was controversial, Florida State is a public university that receives government funding, so university documents qualify as public records under the Florida Sunshine Law.
  • Federally funded biomedical research projects conducted at universities, hospitals and other research institutions have been compiled into a searchable online database by the National Institutes of Health.

Typically, an institution that receives a majority of its funding from the state is then subject to public records requests, but each state has a different interpretation.  Compiled from individual state laws and relevant court decisions, following is a summary of which states consider these institutions' records to be public:

All publicly funded institutions are subject to public records laws:

  • Alaska Public Records Act
  • Arizona Public Records Law
  • Arkansas Freedom of Information Act
  • Colorado Open Records Act
  • Delaware Freedom of Information Act
  • Georgia Public Records Act
  • Illinois Freedom of Information Act
  • Indiana Access to Public Records Act
  • Indiana Access to Public Records Act
  • Iowa Open Records Act
  • Kansas Open Records Act
  • Minnesota Data Practices Act
  • Nebraska Public Records Law
  • New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act
  • North Dakota Open Records Statute
  • Oklahoma Open Records Act
  • South Carolina Freedom of Information Act
  • Tennessee Open Records Act
  • Texas Public Information Act

Some publicly funded institutions are subject to public records laws:

  • California Public Records Act and the California Legislative Open Records Act
  • Connecticut Freedom of Information Act
  • Florida Sunshine Law
  • Louisiana Public Records Act
  • Michigan Freedom of Information Act
  • Missouri Sunshine Law
  • Nevada Open Records Act
  • North Carolina Public Records Law
  • Ohio Open Records Law
  • Oregon Public Records Law
  • Pennsylvania Right to Know Law
  • Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act
  • Utah Government Records Access and Management Act
  • Vermont Public Records Law
  • Virginia Freedom of Information Act
  • West Virginia Freedom of Information Act
  • Wisconsin Open Records Law

Publicly funded institutions are not necessarily subject to public records laws:

  • Mississippi Public Records Act
  • New Jersey Open Records Act
  • Wyoming Sunshine Law

There is no precedent or mention of publicly funded institutions in public records laws:

  • Alabama Public Records Law
  • District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act
  • Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act
  • Idaho Public Records Act
  • Maine Freedom of Access Act
  • Maryland Public Information Act
  • Massachusetts Public Records Act
  • Montana Public Records Act
  • New Hampshire Right to Know Law
  • New York Freedom of Information Law
  • South Dakota Sunshine Act
  • Washington Public Records Act

For more detailed information about your state's public records laws, visit the Sunshine Review.