Freedom of Information Act
The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is one of the most comprehensive and strongest open-records and open-meetings laws in the country.
The Attorney General partners with the Arkansas Press Association and other entities to publish a “Freedom of Information Act Handbook” after every regular session of the General Assembly. The handbook assists Arkansas residents and journalists in using the law and government entities in complying with it. Free copies are available from the Attorney General’s office by completing this short form, emailing community@ArkansasAG.gov or calling 501-682-2007.
Attorney General Rutledge hosted FOIA webcasts in 2015 and 2016, along with workshops in West Memphis, Russellville, Conway, Hope and other communities.
FOIA at a Glance
- The law gives Arkansans access to public records and public meetings, with some exceptions.
- A public record is defined as any writing, sound or video that reflects the performance or lack of performance of an official function.
- All records maintained by public employees within the scope of their employment are presumed to be public records, though several exemptions may shield a record from disclosure.
- Government entities generally have up to three business days to provide a record requested under the FOIA.
- Custodians of records may only charge for the “actual costs” of reproducing public records, plus mailing expenses.
- Notice of public meetings must be provided to anyone who has asked to be notified, and notice of special meetings must be provided to members of the news media in the county who have requested notice of such meetings, as well as media elsewhere who cover regular meetings and have requested notice.
- Governing bodies may only enter into closed sessions for the purpose of considering employment, appointment, promotion, demotion, disciplining or resignation of an individual officer or employee.