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How to Make a Freedom of Access Act Request
There is no central government records office that services Freedom of Access Act requests. Each public body or agency responds individually to requests for its own records. To submit a request, you should determine which public body or agency is likely to maintain the records you are seeking and submit a request to the individual designated as the Freedom of Access Act contact for that body or agency. Please refer to the State of Maine Freedom of Access Act Contacts list for individual contact information.
Is there a form that must be used to make a Freedom of Access Act request?
No. There are no required forms.
Does my Freedom of Access Act request have to be in writing?
No. The Freedom of Access Act does not require that requests for public records be in writing. However, most bodies and agencies ask individuals to submit requests in writing in order to maintain a record of when the request was received and what records were specifically requested.
What should I say in my request?
In order for the body, agency or official to promptly respond to your request, you should be as specific as possible when describing the records you are seeking. If a particular document is required, it should be identified precisely—preferably by author, date and title. However, a request does not have to be that specific. If you cannot identify a specific record, you should clearly explain the type of records you are seeking, from what timeframe and what subject the records should contain.
For example, assume you want to obtain a list of active landfills near your home. A request to the state Department of Environmental Protection asking for “all records on landfills” is very broad and would likely produce volumes of records. The fees for such a request would be very high; the agency would likely find your request too vague and ask that you make it more specific. On the other hand, a request for “all records identifying landfills within 20 miles of 147 Main Street in Augusta” is very specific and the request might fail to produce the information you desire because the agency has no record containing data organized in that exact fashion.
You might instead consider requesting any record that identifies “all active landfills in Augusta” or “all active landfills in Kennebec County.” It is more likely that a record exists which contains this information. You might also want to explain to the agency exactly what information you hope to learn from the record. In other words, if you are really trying to determine whether any active landfills near your home in Augusta accept only wood waste, this additional explanation may help the agency narrow its search and find a record that meets the exact request.