Freedom of the Database


As government operations at all levels have become increasingly computerized, records of those activities have moved from paper to databases. Yet there has been little empirical research about the public’s ability to access such records in practice. This study uses field research to assess how 44 public universities respond to records requests of varying complexity for structured data. Sampled universities produced responsive structured data without a fee in slightly more than a quarter of requests, meaning the vast majority of requests failed to yield the information sought in a structured format and for free.