Request for Public Information
A person desiring to inspect or receive a copy of a public record must give written request for the public record to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) coordinator. A written request may be made by facsimile, electronic mail, or other electronic transmission, but it is not considered to have been received by the FOIA coordinator until one business day after the electronic transmission is made.
The City Commission has established the written procedures and guidelines to implement the FOIA and a written public summary of the specific procedures and guidelines regarding how to submit written requests to the public body and explaining how to understand a public body's written responses, deposit requirements, fee calculations, and avenues for challenge and appeal. View the City of Birmingham FOIA Procedures and Guidelines.
Freedom of Information Act (Act 442 of 1976)
Basic Intent: The Freedom of Information Act regulates and sets requirements for the disclosure of public records by all “public bodies” in the state.
“Public Body” means:
- A state officer, employee, agency, department, division, bureau, board, commission, council, authority, or other body in the executive branch of the state government, but does not include the governor or employees thereof
- An agency, board, commission or council in the legislative branch of the state government
- A county, city, township, village, inter-county, intercity, or regional governing body, council, school district, special district, or municipal corporation, or a board, department, commission, council or agency thereof
- Any other body which is created by state or local authority or which is primarily funded by or through state or local authority
“Public records” means:
- A writing prepared, owned, used, in the possession or, retained by a public body in the performance of an official function, from the time it is created. The term does not include computer software.
Public Records Open to Disclosure
In general, all records except those specifically cited as the Freedom of Information Act covers exceptions. The records include working papers and research material, minutes of open and closed meetings, officials’ voting records, staff manuals, final orders or decisions in contested cases and the records on which they are made, and promulgated rules. Other written statements, which implement or interpret laws, rules or policy, including, but not limited to, guidelines, manuals and forms with instructions, adopted or used by the agency in the discharge of its functions, are also included. It does not matter what form the record is in. The act applies to any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photo stating, photographing, photocopying and every other means of recording. It includes letters, words, pictures, sound or symbols, or combinations thereof, as well as papers, maps, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums, or other means of the recording of retaining meaningful content, but not computer software. The city is not required to create a report or document that does not already exist.