Fiscal Year 2020 → Question 67
The Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) is a statutory mechanism that allows the public to access certain records in the possession of State and local government agencies. For FY 2015 through FY 2018, MCPS received a total of 650 MPIA requests (FY 2015 – 137 requests; FY 2016 – 150 requests; FY 2017 – 163 requests; FY 2018 – 200 requests). For the current fiscal year, as of January 30, 2019, MCPS has received 119 requests. Based on the current trend for FY 2019, MCPS is on track to surpass last year’s total.
The types of requestors fall into four key categories: (1) media outlets; (2) business/research organizations; (3) attorneys or legal interest; and (4) community members. A majority of the requests come from community members. Within this group, eight individuals are responsible for a plurality of the requests spanning multiple years (some since FY 2015). There are six entities within the business/research organizations category that are responsible for a plurality of requests spanning multiple years (some since FY 2015).
Per statute, MCPS has a maximum of 30 calendar days (or, with an agreed extension, 60 calendar days) to grant or deny a request. In August 2017, the Department of Communications hired a communications specialist to specifically focus on and manage the increasing number of MPIA requests and streamline the process. This has allowed MCPS to fulfill most requests within 30 calendar days.