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The People’s Business: A guide to the California Public Records Act

When it comes to government transparency, there is probably no law more important to California residents than the California Public Records Act (PRA). Access to public records, which now even includes the personal email accounts of all public officials (elected, appointed, and government staff) is an indispensable tool anyone can use to uncover the facts about how our government is working or isn't working.

Attached, is "The People's Business," a guide to understanding how this law works and how and when to employ it to promote government transparency.


As it notes in its Introduction,

"The PRA is an indispensable component of California’s commitment to open government. The PRA expressly provides that “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.”4 The purpose is to give the public access to information that enables them to monitor the functioning of their government.5 The concept that access to information is a fundamental right is not new to United States jurisprudence. Two hundred years ago James Madison observed “[k]nowledge will forever govern ignorance and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or tragedy or perhaps both."