Happy New (Data Practices) Year!

January 9, 2023

Get highlights from advisory opinions issued in 2022 related to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

Cities and other government entities across the state have continued to see many complex data requests. When an entity or individual is unsure (or unhappy) with the response of a data request, they may request an opinion. The Minnesota Department of Administration with the Data Practices Office has authority to issue non-binding opinions related to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA).

Summaries of 2022 advisory opinions

The following highlights from 2022 advisory opinions are of interest to cities:

  • Joint powers entities must also comply with the MGDPA; waiting until the 10th day to offer inspection of subject data is not considered timely or meaningful. See Advisory Opinion 22-001
  • Restricting public access to review the journal of votes (minutes) to meeting nights only was considered inadequate, as was referring the requestor to the website. See Advisory Opinion 22-002
  • Rather than referring a requestor to the prosecuting attorney, a city has responsibility to determine which part of an investigative record was submitted as evidence in court. All data submitted in court becomes public data from then on. See Advisory Opinion 22-003
  • A quorum of members may not discuss public business outside its scheduled meeting. See Advisory Opinion 22-004
  • A disciplinary action does not become public data if an arbitrator sustains a grievance and reverses all aspects of any disciplinary action. See Advisory Opinion 22-005
  • Cities may not contract around obligations of the Data Practices Act. Even if the data a city handles is that of a non-government entity, it is still considered “government data,” which is presumptively public unless classified otherwise. See Advisory Opinion 22-006
  • Data maintained by a government attorney does not in itself warrant protection. See Advisory Opinion 22-2007
  • Meetings may not be closed to review employment applications or discuss hiring decisions. See Advisory Opinions 22-008
  • Closed meetings must be recorded unless covered by attorney-client privilege. Special meetings require three days’ notice (first day excluded). See Advisory Opinion 22-009

Learn more and access additional advisory opinions issued by the Minnesota Department of Administration

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