Request a Government Record
Have you ever wanted a government record, but did not
know how to get it? The
Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA)
was established by the State of Utah to set statutory
standards in maintenance and handling of governmental records.
Any citizen can make what is called a GRAMA request to any
Utah government official or agency.
Seven Steps to Highly Successful GRAMAs
To use GRAMA
requests to your advantage, simply follow the steps below (a
sample letter is supplied in Step 2):
Step 1: Locate the gatekeeper of your record.
Step 2: Make a formal, written request.
Step 3: Wait impatiently for a response.
Step 4: Make sure they cite a legitimate excuse
Step 5a: Expose them for an illegitimate excuse.
Step 5b: Appeal to head of agency or department.
Step 6: Appeal to a higher level.
Step 7: Sue them in district court.
Step 1: Locate the gatekeeper of
Find the person responsible for your government record. If
possible, attempt to bypass the red tape by going there and
asking to inspect the records—which costs no money. If they
try to tell you that the record is contained on a computer and
therefore you can't inspect it, press them. They must
have a more legitimate reason to deny you. (See Step 4
for legitimate reasons.)
Step 2: Make a formal, written
For additional information on primary and third-party subjects
of documents, see a
document by the Utah Department of Human Resource Management).
If your record is not immediately available, submit a
GRAMA request. See our sample letter for an example in
Word 97 format or in
.pdf format. Be as specific as possible, citing
whatever sources you can to narrow down the document (and to
discourage them from pretending they don't have it). If you
are requesting a potentially large document, it is probably
wise to set a ceiling on the amount you will pay for your
Step 3: Wait impatiently for a
The agency and local government must respond within 10
working days unless they cite a legitimate reason for delay.
Smaller governments may respond within 15 days because they
claim they are short on staff. If your request would
serve a public interest, you can ask for an expedited request,
which must be addressed within 5 days.
Make sure they cite a legitimate excuse.
If the government entity decides it can not fulfill your
request, tell them to state it in writing. They must
cite one of the following reasons:
The record is being utilized for an
The record has been loaned to another
The request involves a voluminous
number of records.
They are backlogged with a large
number of record requests.
They must review a large number of
requests in order to respond to your request.
They must first run your request by
their legal counsel as there are potential legal issues
It would require extensive editing to
separate or segregate public data from protected data.
Such segregation requires computer
Expose them for an illegitimate excuse.
If their excuse is not legitimate, consider embarrassing
them by going to the press and your elected officials.
You can also contact
various government and private entities in Utah who might
put on additional pressure.
Step 5b: Appeal to head of agency
Make a formal, written appeal to an agency head within 30
days of your request denial. The agency head must respond to
your appeal within 30 days of his receipt of it. In the
first paragraph state that your request was denied and on what
grounds. If the response was not legitimate, state that
the denial is not legitimate according to that statute.
If the denial was technically legitimate, but not reasonable
in your mind, make the request anyway, without the citation.
Appeal to a higher level.
If the agency head denies your appeal, take it to the
State Records Committee which meets quarterly. The State
Records Committee must respond to a request in no more than 30
days. The appeal process to this point is designed not to
require the representation of an attorney. See a
list of appeal decisions made to the Records committee.
If a local
government has enacted its own law, the school board, county
commission or city council will generally hear appeals. Local
governments also may create a records review committee to hear
appeals with their limits.
Step 7: Sue them in district court.
If the State Records Committee or local records review
panel rejects an appeal, it can be appealed to a district
court. At this point, we would recommend that you
contact some of the
various government and private entities to seek further
Read GRAMA Yourself
To better understand the ins and outs of GRAMA, we recommend that
you browse through a
GRAMA document put out by the State of Utah.
Before you do, consider a few important definitions that you
- Classify: This is the process of determining
whether a record series, record, or information within a
record is public, private, controlled, protected, or exempt
Record: This refers to all
books, letters, documents, papers, maps, plans, photographs,
films, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data, or other
documentary materials regardless of physical form or
Schedule: This means the
process of specifying the length of time each record series
should be retained by a governmental entity for
administrative, legal, fiscal, or historical purposes and
when each record series should be transferred to the state
archives or destroyed.
If you have comments or suggestions, please
email us at email@example.com.