The Georgia Open Records Act, § 50-18-70, et seq, outlines the process for how the public can request and inspect governmental records. Please note that not all governmental records are public records. No public officer or agency must prepare a new report, summary, or compilation if no such record exists when a member of the public submits an Open Records Request. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71 (j). Even if a record exists at the time of the request, state law may treat some or all of the information contained in such record as exempt from disclosure or confidential. The Georgia Open Records Act outlines applicable exemptions in O.C.G. A. § 50-18-72, and there are numerous confidentiality statutes in federal and state law which may be applicable to an Open Records Request.
If records exist, but are not immediately available for production, the city's response will include a description of the records and a time and cost estimate for their release. Under Georgia law, an agency may impose a reasonable charge for the search, redaction, and production or copying cost of records responsive to an Open Records Request. The time and cost will be calculated by using the hourly salary of the lowest paid employee qualified to conduct the research of an Open Records Request, with no charge for the first fifteen minutes of employee time expended. In addition to charges for the search, redaction, and production of responsive records, the city may impose a fee for the copying of records or data at $.10 cents per page or, in the case of other documents, the actual cost of producing the copy. For electronic records, the office will charge the actual cost of the media on which the records or data are produced. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71 (c). If the estimated cost for production of the records exceeds $500.00, the city will insist on pre-payment before search, retrieval, review, or production of the records. The city may also require pre-payment for a new request if the requestor has not paid for a prior Open Records Request. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71 (d).