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Request Public Records

Public Records requests are generally governed by Anchorage Municipal Code 3.90, as well as Alaska Statute 40.25.  If you have questions, please review the FAQs at the bottom of this page.  Additionally, many municipal records are already publicly available--review the Municipality of Anchorage Open Data Portal and check the webpage of the appropriate municipal department to see if the records you're looking for are already published online.   

1. Decide which type of request you are making

We offer two different types of requests:

COPY REQUEST

INSPECTION REQUEST

Make this request when you want a copy or copies of Municipal records. There may be a charge associated with a copy request (for copies and/or staff time). Make this type of request when you don’t need a copy of the document. Instead, you review the record in person. There may be a charge associated with an inspection request (for staff time).

2. Download and complete the records request form

Download and complete the Municipal records request form. The Anchorage Police Department has a separate records request form here.

3. Review records request procedures and guidelines

We designed our form to collect all the information we need to process your request without delay. Please be as specific as you can. Knowing more about our process may speed things up even more. Review the FAQs below, and find relevant Anchorage code provisions on access to public records (such as, what records are exempt from public disclosure) in AMC 3.90. Record retrieval rates are found in AMCR 3.90.

4. Email, mail, fax, or drop off your request to the appropriate department/agency

Each Municipal Office is responsible for their own records. Find contact information for Municipal offices, departments, and divisions here.

5. We’ll respond to your request as soon as we can

After we review your request, we’ll respond in one of the following ways:
  • Grant your request
  • Deny your request
  • Grant your request in part and deny it in part
  • Let you know we need more time to process your request

If your request for copies is granted, we will let you know what our estimate is to produce the requested records. Staff time is $40 per hour for search and retrieval, and photocopies are $0.30 per page. Learn more about record retrieval rates in AMCR 3.90.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are records?

According to AMC 3.90.020, a public record means “any document, whether in draft or final form, containing information relating to the conduct of the people's business which is prepared, owned, used or retained by a municipal agency or an agency under contract with the municipality, regardless of the physical form or characteristic of the document.”  It is important to note that public record laws do not require the Municipality to create a public record where none exists.

Who can make a records request?

Generally, any person – Alaskan resident or not – can make a records request.

Where do I send a records request?

Each Municipal department handles its own records requests.  There are over forty departments subject to open records requirements.  Your request will receive the quickest possible response if it is addressed directly to the department that you believe has the records you are seeking.  See the list of Municipal departments for the contact information for each department.

Is there a special form I have to use to make a records request?

While there is no special form required, the Municipality has a general records request form that gathers necessary information and helps speed the Municipality’s response.  The Anchorage Police Department has their own form.

What can I ask for in a records request?

A records request can be made for any department record.  Departments are not required to create new records or to conduct research, analyze data, or answer questions when responding to requests.

Who handles records requests?

There is no central office in the Municipality that handles records requests for the Municipality.  Each department processes its own records in response to requests.

How is a records request processed?

Each department handles requests a little differently but generally, after a department receives your records request, you will usually receive an acknowledgement of the request.  If the department requires additional information and/or payment before it can begin the process, it will contact you.  The department will typically search for records in response to your request, then review those records to determine which – and what parts of each – can be released.  The department will then redact, or black out, any information protected from disclosure.  The releasable records will then be sent to you.

How much does it cost to make a records request?

There is no initial fee required to submit a records request but Municipal Code does provide for the charging of certain types of fees in some instances.

For a typical requester, the Municipality can charge for the time it takes to search for, retrieve, and redact records as necessary at a rate not exceeding $40/hour. 

You may always include in your request a specific statement limiting the amount that you are willing to pay in fees.  You may also narrow your request in order to reduce the fees.  If you agree to pay fees for a records search, you may be required to pay such fees even if the search does not locate any releasable records.

Can I ask that any fees be waived?

You may request a waiver of fees.  Under Municipal Code 3.90.050A., fee waivers are limited to those that provide an affidavit of indigence.

What will I receive in response to a records request?

Once your request has been processed, the department will send you a response.  This response will let you know whether records were located and include all releasable documents.  If any portions of the records are withheld, the department will inform you of the specific exemption that is being applied.

How long will it take before I get a response?

A department should confirm receipt of your request within two days.  The time it takes to complete a request will vary depending on the complexity of the request and any backlog of requests already pending at the department. 

What are record exemptions?

Not all records are required to be released under Public Records Laws.  Municipal exemptions for particular records are detailed in AMC 3.90.040.  The requested information might also be exempt under federal or state law.  If a requested record is considered privileged and/or confidential, the Municipality shall cite the specific provision of applicable law exempting the information from disclosure.

Last updated 9/5/2018
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