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Michigan Department of State written public summary of the department's Freedom of Information Act procedures and guidelines
A. How to submit written requests
A FOIA request must be submitted in writing. For quickest service, requests may be made online using the MDOS FOIA request system.
Third party – An individual using State of Michigan online services on behalf of someone else such as a business, organization, or corporation.
Public – An individual using State of Michigan online services for their own personal transactions.
USPS mailing address:
Michigan Department of State
Attn: FOIA coordinator
P.O. Box 30204
Lansing, MI 48918
Requests MUST include:
- a detailed description of the records sought to enable the department to search for and locate potentially responsive documents
- the requesting person's complete name
- the requesting person's address in compliance with United States Postal Service addressing standards
- a valid telephone number or electronic mail address
B. How to understand the department's written responses to FOIA requests
The department has several options when responding to written requests for public records. It can grant the FOIA request, deny the request, grant it in part and deny it in part, or take one 10 business day extension. After 10 business days pass, the department has to respond with one of the other options.
If the request is granted or granted in part and denied in part, the department can also charge a fee to process the request. There is no fee for requests that do not require the department to incur costs above the threshold set in its Procedures and Guidelines. Fees are calculated using its procedures and guidelines and you will receive a detailed itemization of the fee. The department may require you to pay a good-faith deposit before it processes your request. After you pay any deposit and final balance due, the department will produce records in its possession that fall within the scope of your request and that legally may be disclosed to the public. The department may also notify you that some of the records you have requested are available on its website.
If the request is denied, the department will inform you of the basis for its denial in a written notice. Reasons the department may deny a request include:
- You did not describe the records you have requested well enough and the department cannot determine what you are asking for;
- The department has determined that it does not have records that respond to your request in its possession; or
- The records you have requested are exempt from public disclosure.
If all or part of your request is denied, the department will inform you of your right to appeal its denial to the head of the department and/or to file a lawsuit against the department in its written response.
C. Deposit requirements
If the department estimates a fee to process a FOIA request greater than $50.00, the department will require a good-faith deposit from you before providing the public records. The deposit shall not exceed 1/2 of the total estimated fee. Any written notice containing a notice of a deposit shall also contain a best efforts estimate by the department regarding the time frame after a deposit is received that it will take the department to provide the public records. The time frame estimate is not binding upon the department, but the department shall provide the estimate in good faith and strive to be reasonably accurate and to provide the public records in a manner based on this State's public policy under section 1 of the FOIA, MCL 15.231, and the nature of the request in the particular instance. If a fee appeal has not been filed under section 10a of the FOIA, MCL 15.240a, the department must receive the required deposit within 45 days after your statutorily-determined receipt of the estimate (3 days after the department sends the estimate), otherwise the FOIA request will be considered abandoned and the department will not be required to fulfill the request.
D. Fee calculations
The FOIA permits the department to charge a fee to process FOIA requests using a form to give you a detailed itemization of the costs involved. The department may charge for the following costs:
- the costs of labor for the search, location, and examination of public records;
- the costs of labor for the review of public records and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt material;
- the cost of nonpaper physical media;
- the cost of duplication and publication of public records;
- the costs of labor for the duplication or publication of public records;
- the actual cost of mailing public records.
- Labor costs for monitoring an inspection of original records will be calculated using the hourly wage of the department's lowest paid employee capable of monitoring the inspection. Labor costs for monitoring an inspection will not be charged for the first hour. The hourly wage will be based on the department's payroll records for the applicable fiscal year.
E. Inspection of records
The department shall furnish a person a reasonable opportunity for inspection and examination of a public record, and shall furnish a reasonable facility during the usual business hours. Note: Section 3(3) of the FOIA, MCL 15.233(3), provides, in pertinent part, that "[a] public body shall protect public records from loss, unauthorized alteration, mutilation, or destruction." The department will:
- Provide a designated space for inspection and examination.
- Be present while the document is being reviewed.
- Not allow original documents to be removed from the file or from the designated space (unless a copy is made by the FOIA coordinator or liaison).
- Protect a public record from loss, unauthorized alteration, mutilation, or destruction.
- Record and invoice a reasonable fee for department staff who assist and oversee the process of a person’s record search, copying, and examination of the public record.
F. Avenues for challenge and appeal
If the department charges a fee or denies all or part of a request, you may submit to the head of the department a written appeal that specifically states the word "appeal" and identifies the basis for which the fee should be reduced or the disclosure determination should be reversed. Written appeals may be sent to the email address or mailing address listed previously and will be forwarded to the person designated by the Michigan Secretary of State to respond to written appeals.
G. Transparency liaison
Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Directive No. 2019-11, states that each department or autonomous agency is required to designate a transparency liaison that shall do the following:
- Assist members of the public seeking a public record from the department or agency in navigating the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act or other law applicable to public records, including by providing educational materials on the website of the department or agency.
- Assist members of the public seeking to participate in a public meeting held by a board or commission within the department or agency in a manner that complies with the Open Meetings Act, including by providing educational materials on the website.
- Make recommendations to the department and agency for compliance with this directive, to reduce costs relating to public records requests, and to encourage greater transparency.
- Advocate for the disclosure of public records quickly and in a cost-efficient manner.
- Advocate for transparency and procedures that encourage public participation in public meetings.
- Consult with the department or agency’s Freedom of Information Act coordinator regarding compliance with this directive and the Freedom of Information Act.
- Recommend changes to the department’s or agency’s procedures and guidelines and written public summary of the procedures and guidelines for the department under section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act, MCL 15.234.
In compliance with the Executive Directive, the Michigan Department State’s Transparency Liaison contact information is:
Michigan Department of State
P.O. Box 30204
Lansing, MI 48918