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open records law


n. ~ A statute that guarantees the public has access to information held by governments.


The types of materials that fall under the scope of open records laws are often much more encompassing than what may be considered a formal record. Open records laws generally provide access to any information in a governmental agency, provided that the information is not excluded on the basis of privacy, confidentiality, security, or a need to protect specific government activities or resources, such as procurement, investigation, or archaeological sites.

(Laws on Openness) Laws on access to government meetings and records are often called 'Sunshine' laws or 'Freedom of Information Acts.' In Iowa, such laws more typically are referred to as 'the open meetings law,' which is Iowa Code Chapter 21, and 'the open records law,' which is Iowa Code Chapter 22. The intent of Chapter 21 is made clear in its opening lines: "This chapter seeks to assure . . . that the basis and rationale of government decisions, as well as those decisions themselves, are easily accessible to the people. Ambiguity in the construction or application of this chapter should be resolved in favor of openness."