Public Information Act (PIA)

Maryland's Public Information Act (PIA), enacted in 1970, grants the public a broad right of access to public records while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy rights of individual citizens. The PIA covers public agencies and officials in Maryland and includes all branches of state government (legislative, judicial, and executive). The PIA is similar in purpose to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).​

A public record is defined as the original or copy of any documentary material in any form, to include written materials, books, photographs, photocopies, films, microfilms, records, tapes, computerized records, maps and drawings created or received by the Department in connection with the transaction of public business.

If you have a question, you might not need to file a formal request. Give us a call at 410-537-3000. Please do not submit requests via email so that we can properly track and respond to them in a timely manner. It might take 30 days to process your request.

​Frequently Ask​ed Questions:

Who can submit a PIA request?

Anyone — citizens, corporations, associations, public interest groups, private individuals, and universities.

Can I have access to all MDE records?

The Act provides for access to most agency records. Certain records are privileged by law and must be withheld. Examples include, but are not limited to, records containing attorney-client advice and attorney work product; medical records; personnel records; trade secrets and confidential commercial or financial information.

Other records may be withheld. Examples include, but are not limited to, investigatory records and inter and intra-agency memoranda and letters. If you are denied access to any MDE records, you will be notified as to the specific statutory provisions for each exemption and for challenging the denial procedures.
You will also be notified if files have been lost or destroyed in accordance with our filing and retention schedules.

Is information available without filing a Public Information Act request?

Yes. There is a significant amount of information available on our website. Here are some places to look:

Are there fees related to the Public Information Act?

Yes. They are generally limited to standard charges for direct document search, review, and duplication. We waive charges for the first two hours of search time.
The Department will notify the requester if fees are likely to exceed $25. A written copy of an estimate of assessable fees can be provided if desired by the requester before committing to a willingness to pay. We will make every effort to accurately estimate the costs associated with the request. However, the Department is not bound by the estimate and may charge fees which exceed the estimate. For estimates in excess of $250, the Department requires a deposit before fulfilling the request.

Requests for waivers or reduction in fees should be submitted in writing. A fee waiver may be granted due to inability to pay or whether the information is in the public interest.

Rate schedule:

Position Type

Salary Grade

Hourly Rate


Grade 7 and lower



Grades 8-12



Grades 12-18



Grades 19-21



Grades 22 and above


What information do I need to provide when requesting records?

Specific identification of the records is the responsibility of the requester. To provide you with the best possible service, specify the type of record you are seeking (e.g., file-related information, event-related information, etc), including the name of the facility, site address including zip code, subject area, date the record was created, permit number if known, and originator. Please include names and search terms to narrow your request for email communications.

How does the PIA process work?

When MDE receives your request, it is logged and assigned a unique identifying number. You will receive a letter acknowledging receipt of your request. The request is reviewed and distributed to all appropriate programs. After each program completes the search, you will be notified by mail as to whether or not pertinent records exist. We are unable to give you status reports on your request until our search is complete and you receive our notification letter.

Once you receive MDE's notification letter, which indicates that pertinent records exist, you should then contact the appropriate PIA Liaison(s) to schedule an appointment for a file review. Because MDE's files are predominantly "working" files the files you have requested will remain in the programs until the day of your appointment. Because of the time required to search, gather, and prepare files, walk-in requests cannot be accommodated.

Can I visit MDE and review records?

Yes. After receiving notification of the availability of records, you are invited to schedule a file review. Whenever possible, records will be provided in electronic format.

How long does it take after MDE receives my written request to arrange a file review?

We will acknowledge your request by mail within 10 days of receipt. The Department generally has 30 calendar days to provide a response. 

Where can I learn more about the Public Information Act?

The Public Information Act  can be found in §§ 10-611 to 10-628 of the State Government Article which is an article within the Maryland Annotated Code. You can find the Maryland Annotated Code at your local public library.​​

Who should I contact if I have questions before filing a request?

If you still have questions about PIA in general or about a specific PIA request, contact:

Nicole Eisenstein, PIA Coordinator

Zachary Lansing, Water & Sciences Administration (WSA)

Alison Ray, Air & Radiation Administration (ARA)

Maria Stephens, Land & Materials Administration (LMA)

Tontalia Stinney, Lead Compliance

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