Spotlight on Government Information

Feb 10, 2021

Assorted traffic signs that all say "Freedom of Information"Freedom of Information (FOI) Day is an annual event on or near the date of the birthday of James Madison on March 16. Considered by some as the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison played a vital role in the drafting of the historic document and also authored and championed the United States Bill of Rights.

The right to information access applies to both federal and state governments. All 50 states have public records laws that allow members of the public (including non-residents) to obtain documents and other public records from state and local government bodies. State public records laws are not identical to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), nor are state court interpretations of similar language in state statutes necessarily the same as federal court interpretation of FOIA (though many were modeled upon the federal FOIA).

The Legislature of the State of Wyoming enacted the Wyoming Public Records Act (W.S. §16-4-201 through 16-4-205) to provide the public with access to public records, books, and files of state governmental agencies (subject to exceptions). The purpose of the Act is to promote disclosure and not secrecy in the workings of government.

The position of Public Records Ombudsman was created in 2019 with the Wyoming Sunshine Laws. The ombudsman serves as a resource for public agencies who receive record requests, as well as members of the public seeking public records who have been denied access. The ombudsman receives complaints, mediates disputes and determines if records are privileged or confidential by law.

The most recent changes to the Public Records Act are addressed in Chapter 174 of the 2019 Wyoming Session Laws, available in the Wyoming State Library Legislation Database. All current Wyoming Statutes and the State Constitution may be found on the Wyoming State Legislature website.

Want to make a public records request, but not sure where to start? The Wyoming State Archives has how-to information on their website.

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