Policies & Guidelines


Best Practices & Guidelines: Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-4-604(a)(1)(4), the Office of Open Records Counsel is required to establish a model best practices for use by a records custodian in compliance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503.

Model Public Records Policy: Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(g), every governmental entity subject to the Tennessee Public Records Act must establish a written public records policy properly adopted by the appropriate governing authority by July 1, 2017. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-4-604(a)(1)(4), the Office of Open Records Counsel is required to establish a model public records policy for use by a records custodian in compliance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503. The Model Public Records Policy consists of a model policy, forms (Records Request and Records Response), and policy considerations. The Model Public Records Policy serves as guidance for records custodians and their respective governmental entities in developing a public records policy and fulfilling their duties under the Act.

Under the Tennessee Public Records Act, a records custodian cannot require a request for inspection of public records to be in writing. However, other provisions of law may permit or require such written request. A records custodian can require a request for copies of records to be in writing, or to be made on the Records Request Form, and to include that requirement in their public records policy. If a request must be on a specific form, a copy of the required form must be included in their public records policy and should be readily available for public use. If a governmental entity does not require a specific form, requestors may use the Records Request Form.

When a records custodian denies a request, the request must be in writing. When it is not practicable for a records custodian to provide access to requested records within seven (7) business days, the Tennessee Public Records Act requires the records custodian to use the exact form developed by the Office of Open Records Counsel. The Records Response Form may be used by records custodians for denial and must be used when access cannot be provided within seven (7) business days.

Schedule of Reasonable Charges: Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(g) requires each governmental entity subject to the Tennessee Public Records Act to establish a written public records policy that includes a statement of any fees charged for copies of public records and the procedures for billing and payment. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-4-604(a)(1), the Office of Open Records Counsel is required to establish a schedule of reasonable charges to be used as a guideline to establish charges if a governmental entity determines to charge for copies of public records.

Reasonable Charges for Frequent and Multiple Requests: Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-4-604(a)(2) requires the Office of Open Records Counsel to establish a policy related to reasonable charges that may be charged for frequent and multiple requests for public records. This policy sets forth guidelines for assessing reasonable charges when aggregating multiple and frequent record requests.

Safe Harbor: Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-4-604(a)(3) requires the Office of Open Records Counsel to establish a policy for records custodians who adhere to the Office’s policies and guidelines. This policy establishes a presumption of reasonableness regarding fees and charges.

Informal Advisory Opinions: Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-4-601(b) provides that the Office of Open Records Counsel shall issue informal advisory opinions regarding both the Tennessee Public Records Act and the Tennessee Open Meetings Act as expeditiously as possible. This policy establishes guidelines for the issuance of such opinions.

Mediation of Open Records Issues: Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-4-601(c), the Office of Open Records Counsel is authorized to informally mediate and assist with the resolution of open records issues. This policy establishes the guidelines and circumstances when the Office will mediate.

Office of Open Records Counsel | Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury