Shelby Sterling, JD, is a policy analyst for the Government for the People campaign at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She is a licensed attorney with a JD from Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth with a concentration in public policy.
The Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) provides the public with the tools needed to request government information. As the opening preamble of the public information act states:
The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
While this intent may be good and true, the law in practice has evolved into a tool that is often less effective than what it aspires to be. This is evidenced, in part, when individuals receive the requested information in an unusable format one that is not easy to search or sort. The Office of the Attorney General stated that information should be provided in the requested format, if available. Unfortunately, that is not always the outcome.
Testimony Before the Texas House Committee on State Affairs