The Texas Public Information Act (PIA) allows the public to request large quantities of information about what is going on in the government. Although citizens may see it as a reassurance, it may seem more complicated for your government office.
While you may not intentionally seek to keep information from local citizens, there is some information that must remain private. Included in the PIA is some inherently confidential information.
Here is what you should know about the types of information excluded from the PIA.
There is much information that is in your administrative body’s database, but there is some that your office is required to keep confidential, even if someone does request it. Information that must remain confidential by law includes:
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Child abuse investigations
- Dates of birth for living persons
The material in this category tends to be information that could lead to identity theft, safety threats or other criminal use.
No requirement to disclose
There is some information that is in the middle between “must disclose” and “must not disclose.” Information about pending actions or pending projects tends to be in this category.
In many cases, discretionary information will eventually be information that you must disclose. While you may not need to reveal all the information once the project or action is complete, there may be a time when part of the record becomes public record.
For example, when there is a project in progress, and there are competitive bids, you are not required to disclose the bidding information before the contract is awarded. You may, however, need to provide bidding information after.
Before disclosing information, make sure you know what category the data is in and your obligations to provide the information.