Q: I sent an open records request more than a week ago and I haven’t received a response. What should I do?
A: It is mandatory for a custodian to respond to your open records request “as soon as practicable and without delay.” Sec. 19.35(4)(a), Stats. While the law does not require a response within a specified period of time, the length of time for a response will depend on the nature and the size of the request. See Wisconsin Department of Justice, Wisconsin Public Records Law: Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31-19.39 Compliance Outline 9 (2005). For example, responses to requests for microfilm or microfiche records may take longer than requests for hard-copy documents. If you have not received a response within a reasonable time, contact the custodian to determine whether your request was received and verify when you can expect a response consistent with the statutory guidelines. The Open Records Law provides a remedy for unreasonable “delay” in granting access to a record, as well as for improper denial of access. Sec. 19.37(1), Stats.
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