How to submit a records request

State and Local Records in New Mexico

Requesting public records is easy — just follow these steps:

1. Send a letter or e-mail to the agency’s “records custodian.” Every public body has one, and the custodian’s contact information should be on the agency’s website.

2Ask for the records you’d like to see, and include your name, address and phone number. If you’d like to be extra clear, mention the Inspection of Public Records Act. View a sample request.

3. That’s it! In New Mexico, a written request triggers a series of deadlines for the government. Once the proper custodian receives your request, the deadlines are:

► Immediately or as soon as practicable — provide the records.

► 3 business days — send a written status letter if the records have not been produced yet.
► 15 calendar days — provide the records, send a written denial, or ask for more time.

(The custodian is allowed additional time if a request is very broad or labor-intensive.)

4. If the agency misses a deadline, contact the custodian and confirm that your request has been received. Send follow-up e-mails or letters to clear up any misunderstandings, and be persistent. Open communication is key.

5. Receive a denial? Contact FOG at (505) 663-6401 or info@nmfog.org for advice. You can also read the Attorney General’s IPRA Compliance Guide to see if the reason for denial seems legitimate.

Federal Records

1. Send a letter or e-mail to the federal agency’s Chief FOIA Officer. (If the records you want are in a local field office, it’s a good idea to send separate requests to Washington and the field office.) The Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press has a handy FOIA Letter Generator.

2. That’s it! Be mindful that successfully obtaining federal documents can take years. By law, agencies are required to respond within 20 days, but that doesn’t always happen in practice. For a detailed guide to the nuts and bolts of real-world FOIA requests, check out RCFP’s Federal Open Government Guide.