The Public Access Counselor provides advice and assistance concerning Indiana's public access laws (specifically the Access to Public Records Act and the Open Door Law) to members of the public and government officials and employees. Governor Frank O'Bannon created the office by executive order in 1998 after a statewide collaboration of seven newspapers found great obstacles in obtaining government information in Indiana. The General Assembly then created the office by statute in 1999.
The powers and duties of the public access counselor are the following:
- To establish and administer a program to train public officials and educate the public on the rights of the public and the responsibilities of public agencies under the public access laws.
- To conduct research.
- To prepare interpretive and educational materials and programs in cooperation with the office of the attorney general.
- To distribute to newly elected or appointed public officials the public access laws and educational materials concerning public access laws.
- To respond to informal inquiries made by the public and public agencies concerning the public access laws.
- To issue advisory opinions to interpret the public access laws upon the request of a person or public agency. However, the counselor may not issue an advisory opinion concerning a specific matter with respect to which a lawsuit has been filed.
- To make recommendations to the general assembly concerning ways to improve public access.
Please remember that all records submitted to the Public Access Counselor’s office are public records unless a statutory exemption exists.