How to Request Department of Pesticide Regulation Public Records
- The Public Records Act
- What are public "records"?
- How can I request a public record from DPR?
- How do I request records related to pesticide registration?
- Are there fees involved?
- When will DPR respond to my records request?
- How soon will I get the records?
- When may public records be inspected?
- What records are not open for inspection or will not be disclosed?
- What if I wish to challenge DPR’s determination not to disclose records?
- Where can I get more information on the Public Records Act?
The purpose of the California Public Records Act is to give the public greater access to information about how the State conducts the public's business. Any person can request public records. It does not matter who you are or why you want them. The law (beginning at Government Code Section 6250) requires the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and other government agencies to make public records available on request. DPR has set up these guidelines to ensure that members of the public fully understand how to exercise their right to inspect and get copies of public records.
"Records" include all communications related to public business "regardless of physical form or characteristics, including any writing, picture, sound, or symbol, whether paper...., magnetic or other media," prepared, owned, used or held by DPR, regardless of how the record has been stored.
You can request records in person, by telephone or e-mail, or by sending a written request. To ask for a public record, or if you need more information on how to make a request, contact DPR’s Executive Office at (916) 445-4300.
You are not required to make your request in writing. However, making a written request can both streamline the response process and help us accurately identify the records you are asking for. Send written requests to:
Department of Pesticide Regulation
P. O. Box 4015
Sacramento, CA 95812-4015
You may also e-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your written request does not need to be in any particular form but it will help us respond more quickly if you include a clear and specific description of the records you are asking for. If possible, identify dates, subjects, titles and authors of the records requested. If needed, DPR staff can help you focus your request by describing the type of records that we have, and providing other suggestions for simplifying access. Although not required, if you provide us your contact information (name, address, telephone number and e-mail address), it will enable us to reach you if we need to clarify your request.
Anyone with a disability who requires accommodation to access DPR public records should notify us of their accommodation needs.
Requests to inspect or get a copy of records related to registration of pesticide products (including studies and data) are subject to special rules under the Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6254.2). This is to protect trade secret information considered confidential under federal law. This publication, PDF (75kb) has more information on making these requests to DPR’s Registration Branch, including the "Affirmation of Status" form the law requires to process the request.
Inspecting records is always free. If you request copies of information that is only available in printed form, or if you want a printout of electronic data, the cost will be 35 cents a page. Reasonable fees to cover other types of reproduction costs may be charged.
If your request is for an electronic record that requires data compilation, extraction, or special programming, you must pay for that work.
We will let you know about any fees in advance and you must pay them before we can provide the requested records. (To reduce costs, you may wish to ask to inspect the records first to reduce the material you want copied. If you wish, you may bring in a portable copier and make your own copies.)
If the information you request is available electronically and you want it on a CD or by e-mail, the file(s) can be sent at no cost.
Government agencies have 10 days from the date a request is received to tell you what documents they will provide, and what documents they will not, and why. DPR must also give you an estimate of when the records will be available. In certain cases (for example, the request is for "voluminous" files, requires consultation with another agency, is for records held off-site, or other circumstances defined in Government Code 6253), an agency can, with written notice to the requestor, give itself another 14 days to respond.
The requested documents can either be made available with the initial response or within a reasonable time after. It is DPR's policy that records not exempt from disclosure by State law will be open for public inspection with the least possible delay and expense to the requesting party. (Please note that the law does not require agencies to create new documents that otherwise would not exist, simply to respond to a request, or to create lists or reports in response to questions. In addition, you cannot request documents that have not yet been created, that is, you cannot make requests into the future.)
Public records are open to inspection during DPR office hours, 8:00 a.m. - noon and 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for State holidays. To ensure that your requested documents are ready and available, it helps if you make an appointment, although this is not required. Inspecting public records is subject to a rule of reason regarding time and duration, and must be consistent with the efficient functioning of our offices.
In balancing the public’s right to access public records with the recognized individual right of privacy and the need for government agencies to be able to competently perform their duties, the Legislature has established certain categories of records as exempt from public disclosure.
A list of statutory exemptions is in the Public Records Act (Government Code, beginning with Section 6254). Exemption categories include:
- Preliminary drafts, notes, or inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda which are not kept by DPR in the ordinary course of business, provided that the public interest in withholding such records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
- Records regarding pending litigation to which DPR is a party, or to claims made under Government Code Division 3.6 (beginning with Section 810) until the litigation or claim has been adjudicated or otherwise settled.
- Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
- Trade secrets as defined in Government Code section 6254.2(f) except as required by law.
- Records of complaints to or investigations conducted by DPR for licensing purposes.
- Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination.
- Records of which the disclosure is exempt or prohibited under provisions of federal or state law, including but not limited to provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.
- Correspondence of and to the Governor or employees of the Governor’s Office or in the custody of or maintained by the Governor’s legal affairs secretary.
DPR also has the discretion not to disclose records which do not qualify for a specific exemption under the Public Records Act if it determines that the public interest served by not making the record public clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure, under Government Code Section 6255. DPR’s determination to disclose a particular record which may otherwise be exempt from disclosure does not constitute a waiver with respect to any other records.
If DPR has declined to provide access to records it possesses that a person has requested, the Public Records Act, Government Code Section 6258, provides that any person may seek injunctive or declarative relief in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce the right to inspect or to receive a copy of any public record.
The California Attorney General's Office has published an 84-page summary, PDF (290 kb) of the Public Records Act.