Freedom of Information Act Requests
The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), S.C. Code Ann. §§ 30-4-10 to -165, provides access to public meetings and to certain records maintained by government bodies. Consistent with the FOIA, records maintained by the Office of the Governor–Executive Control of State (“Governor’s Office” or “Office”) are open to public review. Upon request, the Office will make available to the public those records that are subject to disclosure under the FOIA and that are not privileged, protected, or otherwise exempt from disclosure or afforded confidential treatment by state or federal law.
Please note that the Governor’s Office does not process FOIA requests seeking records from separate state entities. Any such requests should be sent directly to the appropriate agency or government body. A list of state agencies, boards, and commissions is available at SC.gov.
How do I request information?
All requests pursuant to the FOIA must be submitted in writing. Although no particular form is required, written submissions should identify or describe the materials requested in order to allow staff to efficiently search for the records in question. Overly broad or vague requests may make it difficult for the Office to respond in a timely manner or to search for or produce records at the lowest possible cost. The scope of requests may be narrowed by subject, date, or custodian to help ensure that searches are tailored to the specific records sought and do not yield irrelevant information.
FOIA requests may be submitted by U.S. mail, fax, or by email:
Office of the Governor
1100 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Please note that South Carolina law prohibits obtaining or using public records for commercial solicitation directed to any person in this State and provides penalties for noncompliance. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-2-50.
How long will it take?
The Office will notify the requesting party of its determination and the reasons for such determination within either ten (10) or twenty (20) working days of receiving the request, depending on the age of the records requested. Working days do not include Saturdays, Sundays, or legal public holidays.
The Office does not guarantee that a search will yield any responsive records. If the requested records exist and are available for public disclosure, the Office will coordinate with appropriate staff to arrange for the retrieval and review. Unless a deposit is required prior to searching for or reproducing responsive records, the information or materials generally will be furnished or made available for inspection or copying within either thirty (30) or thirty-five (35) calendar days of the determination of the request, depending on the age of the records requested.
All FOIA requests will be processed in a manner designed to ensure open access, accountability, and a timely response to the public. Because some or all of the requested records could potentially implicate or involve sensitive economic development or law enforcement activities, ongoing litigation, or confidential matters that are otherwise protected or exempt from disclosure under state or federal law, FOIA requests are coordinated through legal counsel.
What does it cost?
South Carolina law provides that public bodies may collect reasonable fees to cover certain costs associated with searching for, retrieving, redacting, transferring, and reproducing records. Due to the high volume of FOIA requests received by the Governor’s Office and the significant expenses associated with responding to such requests, the Office has established the following fee schedule:
Fee Schedule for Freedom of Information Act Requests
Search & Retrieval Fee $10/hour
Redaction & Transfer Fee $10/hour
Copy Fee (for requests exceeding 15 pages) $0.15/page
The Governor’s Office does not charge fees for staff time devoted to determining whether the requested documents are subject to disclosure. The Governor’s Office also does not charge for copying records that are readily maintained and transmitted in an electronic format and may be produced in their original format. Under South Carolina law, the Office is authorized to furnish records when appropriate either without charge or at a reduced charge if it determines that waiving or reducing the applicable fees is in the public interest because producing the records under the circumstances primarily benefits the general public.
In some cases, the Office may require a partial deposit from the requesting party prior to searching for or making copies of records. If a deposit is required prior to searching for or producing any responsive records, the records will be furnished or made available within either thirty (30) or thirty-five (35) calendar days of receipt of the deposit, depending on the age of the documents or records requested. The full amount of the total cost must be paid by the requesting party when the records are produced.