public record

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Public records contain information, minutes, files, accounts, or any other documents that a governmental body is required to maintain, and must be accessible to the public. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was adopted in the United States in 1967 with the purpose of keeping citizens in the know about their government, and the public record is the result of the FOIA. Each state in the United States handles public records with its own set of laws and regulations. Public records aren't always free, collecting a fee for obtaining a public record is standard practice that varies by state. 

[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]