Maryland Public Information Act
 What is it?

Maryland’s Public Information Act (PIA), 4-101 et seq. of the General Provisions Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, grants people the right of access to public records while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy rights of individual citizens. The PIA applies to all three branches of Maryland state government, as well as local government entities.

What does it pertain to?
The PIA grants you the right to review available records that are disclosable and to obtain copies of those records. A public record is defined as the original or copy of any documentary material in any form created or received by an agency in connection with the transaction of public business. Included in this definition are written materials, books, photographs, photocopies, films, microfilms, records, tapes, computerized records, maps, drawings and other materials.
However, some public records are confidential under federal or state statutes, under court rules, or under various common law privileges such as attorney-client privilege and executive privilege, and are therefore not releasable under the PIA. In addition, the County has the right to withhold records if it is determined that disclosure of those records would be “contrary to the public interest.”
How do I apply?

Howard County Government asks that all PIA request be submitted in writing, either via letter or email, to the Office of Public Information (PIO) EXCEPT for those requests that seek ONLY records from the Howard County Police Department (HCPD) or Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS). If you seek records from HCPD and/or HCDFRS, as well as other Howard County Government departments, please submit your request to PIO. Please note, the Howard County Health Department, a State agency despite its name, is the custodian of its own records. For instructions on how to submit a PIA request to the Health Department, please visit its PIA website. Additionally, requests for records maintained by the Howard County Council, the legislative branch of government, are to be sent to the Council's Public Information Officer as the County Council is the custodian of its own records.   

In your request to Howard County Government, it is important that you specifically describe the precise records you seek so that the County can thoroughly research your request. Please be sure to provide all necessary contact information as further discussions may be necessary to clarify your request.

To submit a request to PIO, please either email or mail the request to: Office of Public Information, Attn: Mark Miller, Administrator, 8930 Stanford Boulevard, Columbia, MD 21045. Additional contact information for PIO can be found online or by calling 410-313-2022.

If you ONLY seek records from HCPD OR HCDFRS (and no other Howard County Government department), you will need to contact HCPD or HCDFRS directly. To submit a request for records solely to HCPD, either email or mail the request to: Howard County P