Data Requests

Requesting Data and Information

You have the right to request information from the government.

 Who do I contact?

Who do I contact?

  • Contact your case worker if you have one or contact one of the DVHHS service centers. Data Request Contacts supplied in Resources section.

 How do I ask for information?

How do I ask for information?

DVHHS has procedures to assist with completing your request:

  • A written request may be requested.
  • Prepayment for copies may be requested.
  • A data subject may need to provide identification for private information

 Data About You (data subject, parent or legal guardian)

This information discusses your rights when government entities collect and keep information about you. Minnesota Statutes, section 13.05, subdivision 8, requires us to have this document. 

Data about You
The Government Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13) says that data subjects have certain rights related to a government entity collecting, creating, and keeping government data about them. You are the subject of data when you can be identified from the data. Government data is a term that means all recorded information a government entity has, including paper, email, DVDs, photographs, etc.

 How to Make a Request for Your Data

How to Make a Request for Your Data
To look at data, or request copies of data that Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services keeps about you, your minor children, or an individual for whom you have been appointed legal guardian, make a written request. Make your request for data to the appropriate individual listed in the Data Practices Contacts. You may make your written request by mail, email or fax, by completing Section A of the Information Disclosure Request. Requests for a small amount of public data may not require a written request, at the sole discretion of the Responsible Authority or Designee.
 
If you choose not use to use the data request form, your written request should include:
  • that you are making a request, under the Government Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13), as a data subject, for data about you;
  • whether you would like to inspect the data, have copies of the data, or both;
  • a clear description of the data you would like to inspect or have copied; and
  • identifying information that proves you are the data subject, or data subject’s parent/guardian.
If the data is private, Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services requires proof of your identity before we can respond to your request for data. If you are requesting data about your minor child, you must show proof that you are the minor’s parent. If you are a guardian, you must show legal documentation of your guardianship. Please see the Standards for Verifying Identity document.

 Classification of Data about You

Classification of Data about You
The Government Data Practices Act presumes that all government data are public unless a state or federal law says that the data are not public.  Data about you are classified by state law as public, private, or confidential.  See below for some examples.
 
Public Data: We must give public data to anyone who asks; it does not matter who is asking for the data or why. 
 
The following is an example of public data about you: if you are an employee of a government entity, the fact that you work for the entity, and your job title and bargaining unit is public.  
 
Private Data: We cannot give private data to the general public, but you have access when the data are about you.  We can share your private data with you, with someone who has your permission, with Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services staff who need the data to do their work, and as permitted by law or court order. 
 
The following is an example of private data about you: your Social Security number. 
 
Confidential Data: Confidential data have the most protection. Neither the public nor you can get access even when the confidential data are about you. We can share confidential data about you with Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services staff who need the data to do their work and to others as permitted by law or court order.  We cannot give you access to confidential data. 
 
The following is an example of confidential data about you: the identity of the subject of an active criminal investigation. 

 How We Respond to a Data Request for Your Data

How We Respond to a Data Request
Once you make your written request, we will work to process your request. If it is not clear what data you are requesting, we will ask you for clarification. 
  • If we do not have the data, we will notify you in writing within 10 business days.
  • If we have the data, but the data are confidential or private data that are not about you, we will notify you in writing within 10 business days and state which specific law says you cannot access the data.       
  • If we have the data, and the data are public or private data about you, we will respond to your request within 10 business days, by doing one of the following:
    • arrange a date, time, and place to inspect data, for free, if your request is to look at the data, or
    • provide you with copies of the data within 10 business days.  You may choose to pick up your copies, or we will mail or fax them to you.  We will provide electronic copies (such as email or CD-ROM) upon request if we keep the data in electronic format. See Fee Schedule about copy charges. We also will arrange for you to prepay for the copies. Pre-payment of copies is required unless other arrangements are approved by the Responsible Authority or Designee.
After we have provided you with access to data about you, we do not have to show you the data again for 6 months unless there is a dispute or we collect or create new data about you.
 
If you do not understand some of the data (technical terminology, abbreviations, or acronyms), please let us know. We will give you an explanation if you ask. 
 
The Government Data Practices Act does not require us to create or collect new data in response to a data request if we do not already have the data, or to provide data in a specific form or arrangement if we do not keep the data in that form or arrangement. (For example, if the data you request are on paper only, we are not required to create electronic documents to respond to your request.)  If we agree to create data in response to your request, we will work with you on the details of your request, including cost and response time.
 
In addition, we are not required under the Government Data Practices Act to respond to questions that are not requests for data.

 Your Rights under the Government Data Practices Act

Your Rights under the Government Data Practices Act
Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services must keep all government data in a way that makes it easy for you to access data about you. Also, we can collect and keep only those data about you that we need for administering and managing programs that are permitted by law. As a data subject, you have the following rights. 
 
Access to Your Data: You have the right to look at (inspect), free of charge, public and private data that we keep about you. You also have the right to get copies of public and private data about you.  The Government Data Practices Act allows us to charge for copies. You have the right to look at data, free of charge, before deciding to request copies. 
 
Also, if you ask, we will tell you whether we keep data about you and whether the data are public, private, or confidential. 
 
As a parent, you have the right to look at and get copies of public and private data about your minor children (under the age of 18). As a legally appointed guardian, you have the right to look at and get copies of public and private data about an individual for whom you are appointed guardian.
 
Minors have the right to ask Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services not to give data about them to their parent or guardian. If you are a minor, we will tell you that you have this right.  We will ask you to put your request in writing and to include the reasons that we should deny your parents access to the data.  We will make the final decision about your request based on your best interests. 
 
When We Collect Data from You: When we ask you to provide data about yourself that are not public, we must give you a notice. The notice is sometimes called a Tennessen warning. The notice controls what we do with the data that we collect from you. Usually, we can use and release the data only in the ways described in the notice.
 
We will ask for your written permission if we need to use or release private data about you in a different way, or if you ask us to release the data to another person. This permission is called informed consent. If you want us to release data to another person, you may use the consent form we provide. However, if you do not use the consent form we provide, we request that the form be reviewed by our County Attorney’s office.  
 
Protecting Your Data: The Government Data Practices Act requires us to protect your data. We have established appropriate safeguards to ensure that your data are safe.
 
When Your Data are Inaccurate and/or Incomplete: You have the right to challenge the accuracy and/or completeness of public and private data about you.  You also have the right to appeal our decision. If you are a minor, your parent or guardian has the right to challenge data about you.

 Data for the Public

Minnesota Statutes, section 13.03, subdivision 2(b), requires us to have this document. 

Right to Access Public Data
The Government Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13) presumes that all government data are public unless a state or federal law says the data are not public. Government data is a term that means all recorded information a government entity has, including paper, email, DVDs, photographs, etc.
 
The Government Data Practices Act also provides that Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services (DVHHS) must keep all government data in a way that makes it easy for you, as a member of the public, to access public data. You have the right to look at (inspect), free of charge, all public data that we keep.  You also have the right to get copies of public data. The Data Practices Act allows us to charge for copies. You have the right to look at data, free of charge, before deciding to request copies. 

 How to Make a Data Request for the Public

How to Make a Data Request
To look at data or request copies of data that DVHHS keeps, make a written request. Make your written request for data to the appropriate individual listed in the Data Practices Contacts. You may make your written request for data by mail, email or fax by completing Section A of the Information Disclosure Request form. Requests for a small amount of public data may not require a written request, at the sole discretion of the Responsible Authority or Designee.
 
If you choose not to use the data request form, your written request should include:
  • that you, as a member of the public, are making a request for data under the Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13;
  • whether you would like to look at the data, get copies of the data, or both; and
  • a clear description of the data you would like to inspect or have copied
DVHHS cannot require you, as a member of the public, to identify yourself or explain the reason for your data request. However, depending on how you want us to process your request (if, for example, you want us to mail you copies of data), we may need some information about you.  If you choose not to give us any identifying information, we will provide you with contact information so you may check on the status of your request.  In addition, please keep in mind that if we do not understand your request and have no way to contact you, we will not be able to begin processing your request.  

 How We Respond to a Data Request for the Public

How We Respond to a Data Request
Upon receiving your written request, we will work to process it. 
  • If we do not have the data, we will notify you in writing as soon as reasonably possible. 
  • If we have the data, but the data are not public, we will notify you in writing as soon as reasonably possible and state which specific law says the data are not public. 
  • If we have the data, and the data are public, we will respond to your request appropriately and promptly, within a reasonable amount of time by doing one of the following:
    • arrange a date, time, and place to inspect data, for free, if your request is to look at the data, or
    • provide you with copies of the data as soon as reasonably possible. You may choose to pick up your copies, or we will mail or fax them to you.  If you want us to send you the copies, you will need to provide us with an address or fax number. We will provide electronic copies (such as email or CD-ROM) upon request if we keep the data in electronic format. See Fee Schedule for copy charges. We also will arrange for you to pre-pay for the copies. Pre-payment of copies is required unless other arrangements are approved by the Responsible Authority or Designee.
If you do not understand some of the data (technical terminology, abbreviations, or acronyms), please let us know. We will give you an explanation if you ask. 
 
The Government Data Practices Act does not require us to create or collect new data in response to a data request if we do not already have the data, or to provide data in a specific form or arrangement if we do not keep the data in that form or arrangement. (For example, if the data you request are on paper only, we are not required to create electronic documents to respond to your request.) If we agree to create data in response to your request, we will work with you on the details of your request, including cost and response time.
 
In addition, the Government Data Practices Act does not require us to answer questions that are not requests for data.

 Requests for Summary Data

Requests for Summary Data
Summary data are statistical records or reports that are prepared by removing all identifiers from private or confidential data on individuals. The preparation of summary data is not a means to gain access to private or confidential data. DVHHS will prepare summary data if you make your request in writing and pre-pay for the cost of creating the data. Upon receiving your written request – you may use the Information Disclosure Request Form – we will respond within ten business days with the data or details of when the data will be ready and how much we will charge.