This page provides answers to some frequently asked questions about Sunshine Request.


What are sunshine requests, sunshine laws, and sunshine records in the United States?

“Sunshine laws”, “sunshine requests”, “sunshine records,”are various terms generally used to refer to a public records request or public records law in some of the United States.

  • Ballotpedia.org “… is the digital encyclopedia of American politics and elections.”

https://ballotpedia.org/Ballotpedia:About

         https://ballotpedia.org/State_sunshine_laws

Other helpful resources:

(All URLs Retrieved 06 November 2019)


Is Sunshine Request a government entity? How is Sunshine Request structured?

Sunshine Request (www.sunshinerequest.com) is a project built and run by PRC Applications and their small team in Asheville, NC. Sunshine Request is not an officially incorporated entity (Corporation, LLC, or 501-3c).

Sunshine Request is not a government agency — it is an anonymous platform we built for submitting public records requests. The name of our site was inspired by a quote from Louis Brandeis.


How is Sunshine Request funded? Has PRC Applications received any grants or other funding for Sunshine Request or their Community Playback program (filming public meetings)?

Sunshine Request is supported exclusively by the owners and staff at PRC Applications as part of their course of regular work duties.

Since launching Sunshine Request in 2017, PRC Applications has not received any payments, grants, or other funding from any entity / source for any aspect of www.sunshinerequest.com (including the development / maintenance of the website, records requests made by Sunshine Request, filming of public meetings, and all other operations / functions of the website).

PRC Applications may explore various funding models in the future.


How do I submit a request?

Before submitting a request via the form on the homepage of our site, please check out our tips for How to make a request.


I submitted a request, but it has been removed from the site (or was marked as “Completed”) without being “Sent to Government.” Why?

We will always do our best to fulfill all reasonable and actionable requests for public records that we receive.

There are certain types of requests that we will not process, and certain records that we will not publish on www.sunshinerequest.com. We reserve the right to reject or remove requests, based on our own policies and judgement.

Before submitting a request, please review the list of requests we will not fulfill. If any aspect of your request falls into these categories, we may decline to process your request or remove it from the site. If your request is denied, please feel free to revise and resubmit your request, following our tips on how to make a request.


When will my request be fulfilled?

Sunshine Request does not control if / when Government entities will confirm receipt, begin processing, complete, or deny requests we submit to them via our website. If you would like to make a request that is time sensitive, we recommend that you reach out to the appropriate government entity directly for assistance with a request, rather than submitting through our site.

Sunshine Request is run by a very small team. We do our best to review and send in requests to the appropriate entities as quickly as we are able, and it is up to the Government agency to determine the timeline and speed with which the request can be processed. We generally try to follow up on requests once every 1 – 2 weeks as we’re able, until the government agency has confirmed that the request has been received and is being processed (and there is some timeline for completion), and we will wait to follow up again during the time period they specify.

Please do not send us additional request submissions asking that we “follow up on” a request on our site, or to ask for a status update on a request. If at any time you would like to track the status of your request, please “Search” for your request via the “Search box” or by viewing the list of requests on the View All Requests page. Any updates we receive will be posted on our site as soon as we are able. We also publish a weekly Friday “Completed requests” list on our Facebook, and Twitter page.

We are a small team — due to holidays, unforeseen events / scheduling conflicts, there may be times that we cannot publish or update requests for several days. We will do our best to process all requests as quickly as possible.


What do the statuses and status icons on the requests mean?

Currently, we have 9 types of request statuses, indicated by various colorful “face icons” on the View all Requests page, as well as in the overall “Fulfilled Status” listed at the top of each request.

The overall “Fulfilled Status” of a request may not always match the individual statuses of a request’s various activities / updates listed below the request.

For example: If the same request was made to both Buncombe County and Asheville City Governments within one request, this is treated as two requests, and it’s possible that one entity’s request statuses could get marked as “Completed,” while the Overall Status of the request is still marked as “Government Processing Request.”

This just means that Sunshine Request is waiting on the rest of the results before we can mark the request as fully “Completed” overall.

Please Note: If at any time you would like to track the status of your request, please “Search” for your request via the “Search box” or by viewing the list of requests on the View All Requests page. Any updates we receive will be posted on our site as soon as we are able. We also publish a weekly Friday “Completed requests” list on our Facebook, and Twitter page.

  • Pending

A user on our site has filled out the request form on our homepage, and has successfully submitted a request to www.sunshinerequest.com. The request has not been reviewed or published on our site.

  • In Review

Sunshine Request has reviewed the request, and it has been published on our site. We have not sent it in to the Government entity yet. We will mark the request as “Sent to Government” as soon as it is sent.

  • Sent to Government

Sunshine Request has sent the request to the government entity / entities and is waiting on a response to confirm that it has been received and is being processed.

  • Response Received from Government

This status is typically used to indicate when Sunshine Request has received some type of response / update from the government entity and has posted their update on our site, but we have not yet been able to reply to the entity. We will update this status as soon as we have replied or additional action has been taken.

  • Follow Up

This status is typically used to indicate when Sunshine Request has sent a follow up email to a government entity about some aspect of a request. This could be done for a variety of reasons, and means we are awaiting a response to our “Follow Up” email before the request can be updated further.

For example: In some cases “Follow Up” may mean that an entity has not yet confirmed receipt of the request we sent in or let us know if / when it will be processed, so we have followed up. Or, this status could also mean that Sunshine Request has followed up on a request that should have been completed, and is attempting to contact the entity until we receive an additional status update.

  • Clarification Requested

This status could be used to indicate that “Clarification has been requested by Sunshine Request”, or in some cases could indicate that “Clarification has been requested by the Government entity”.

Occasionally, we do receive responses or questions from government entities about some aspect of the request that we’ve sent in. If a response or information we receive is unclear to us, we may send back a “Request for Clarification” to the government entity.

For example: If an entity has denied a request on some grounds that are unclear to us, we may ask that they provide a link to a policy or statute related to their refusal.

  • Clarification Provided

The government entity and / or Sunshine Request has provided the requested clarification and is awaiting an additional response.

  • Completed

This status may indicate that the overall request status has been “Completed.” The government entity has fulfilled their portion of the request, or Sunshine Request has “Completed” the request for another reason.

This status may also indicate that a specific portion of the request has been marked as “Completed” by Sunshine Request, but the overall request has not been fulfilled and is still being processed.

For Example: If the same request was made to both Buncombe County and Asheville City Governments within one request, this is treated as two requests, and it’s possible that one entity’s request statuses could get marked as “Completed,” while the Overall Status of the request is still marked as “Government Processing Request.”

This just means that Sunshine Request is waiting on the rest of the results before we can mark the request as fully “Completed” overall.

  • Government Denied Request

We do not frequently mark requests as “Denied,” and prefer whenever possible that all requests on our site get marked as “Completed” if applicable.

The “Denied” status could indicate that the government entity has provided an outright refusal to complete the request for some reason, or, that Sunshine Request has made every reasonable effort to follow up and try to complete a request but has not received any additional response. In this case, Sunshine Request will notify the entity that the request will be marked as “Denied” on our site, and if the entity chooses to respond to the request at some point, the request will be “Reopened” at that time.


I want to edit / change, remove / cancel, or follow up on my request, so I wrote to the government about it myself.

Once you have submitted a request to www.sunshinerequest.com, our team will process the request per our policies and the request will not be “cancelled.” Please do not submit requests if you do not want the request to be processed and the results published on our site.

Sunshine Request is not responsible for any outside communications related to requests on our site. We ask that government entities fulfill our requests as written, and that they do not modify or alter the content of the request in response to outside communications from members of the public.

Please do not contact government entities directly to ask them to follow up with our team, and please do not ask them to alter any part of the requests submitted from our website. Please do not ask government entities to “complete”, “follow up on”, “change”, or “cancel” requests submitted from our website by contacting the government outside of our site. This will not be treated as an alteration of an official Sunshine Request, and we will continue to pursue the request as it was originally submitted.

Sunshine Request will continue to follow up on and process all requests made through our site until we receive the results and the request is “Completed”, or until a government entity denies the request.

If you need to contact the Sunshine Request team, please email us at [email protected].

Please do not use the public records request form on our website or other methods of communication to contact us about questions related to Sunshine Request. We will not review or respond to these submissions.


Who should I contact if I think there are results of requests that have been improperly disclosed or should be redacted?

The results of all Completed requests are published on our site, and have been provided to Sunshine Request directly by the disclosing government agency (government entity).

Sunshine Request’s policy in situations involving an alleged improper disclosure is to refer you to the disclosing agency (government entity). If any party feels that an alleged improper disclosure has taken place, please contact the disclosing agency (government entity) directly.

If the disclosing agency, after a review of your case, determines that confidential information was improperly disclosed, and notifies us of such disclosure, we will then be able to review your case.


I have a media inquiry, request for filming, or other questions about some aspect of Sunshine Request. How do I get in touch?

If you have questions about our website, please check out our FAQs.

If you need to contact the Sunshine Request team, please email all media inquiries (requests for filming or press), or any additional questions about our website to [email protected].

Please do not use the public records request form on our website or other methods of communication to contact us about questions related to Sunshine Request. We will not review or respond to these submissions.