44.2.204 ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION AND FEES FOR COPIES
(1) Pursuant to Article II, section 9, of the Montana Constitution, and 2-6-1003, MCA, government documents and public information may be examined and copies provided to the public, with a few exceptions where privacy and security concerns outweigh the public's right to know.
(a) This rule pertains to public information made available or copied pursuant to the public's right to know.
(b) Fees charged for other services provided by the Secretary of State's office are not affected by this rule, including but not limited to document and record services provided by the Business Services Division, Administrative Rules Services, Notarial Services, and Records and Information Management Services.
(2) Requests to examine public information in the Secretary of State's Office will be granted by appointment. There is no charge for examination of public information in the office, but fees for research and preparing public information for examination or copying will be charged in accordance with (5).
(3) The Secretary of State shall maintain the integrity of original records. If in the opinion of the Secretary of State any requested record might be altered, stolen, or is irreplaceable, a staff person will supervise any examination or copying of that record.
(4) Requests to examine and/or for copies of public information will be processed and completed as soon as possible depending upon the workload and availability of staff. Agency staff will be responsible for gathering and providing the requested copies utilizing office equipment and resources.
(5) The Secretary of State will determine the form in which a copy of public information will be provided. In accordance with 2-6-1006, MCA, the Secretary of State is not required to alter or customize any public information to provide it in a form specified to meet the needs of any requesting person. A request for a customized record request response will be reviewed in accordance with 2-6-1006, MCA.
(6) In accordance with 2-6-1006, MCA, the Secretary of State will charge fees for fulfilling requests for public information, not to exceed the actual costs directly incident to fulfilling the request in the most cost-efficient and timely manner possible. The fees will include the staff time required to review and gather the public information, including but not limited to legal review, research, IT services, gathering, and copying. Payment of the fees will be required in advance in accordance with 2-6-1006, MCA, and will be as follows:
(a) photocopies, $.50 per page
(b) digital images, $.15 per page
(c) staff time to gather and prepare documents for copying – actual cost
(d) records recalled from offsite storage – actual cost
(e) staff time for gathering and copying electronic files – actual cost
(f) digital media – actual cost
(g) legal review – actual cost
(h) research / analysis apart from simple collection – actual cost
(i) additional services required of Information & Technology Services Division – actual cost
(7) Agency staff will record and document all time and expenses associated with a public information request, and a fee for staff time will be charged only when it exceeds one-half hour of time.
History: 2-6-1006, 2-15-405, MCA; IMP, Article II, section 9, Montana Constitution, 2-6-1003, 2-6-1006, MCA; NEW, 2011 MAR p. 1558, Eff. 8/12/11; AMD, 2016 MAR p. 2436, Eff. 12/24/16; AMD, 2017 MAR p. 1677, Eff. 9/23/17.