NH DHHS Right to Know Requests
NH RSA 91-A, also known as the Right-to-Know Law, establishes a person’s right of access to the records of public bodies and public agencies, including the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS).
The Right-to-Know Law promotes government transparency and discourse with the public by ensuring public access to information created, accepted, or obtained by any public agency. However, this access does not extend to protected information, such as a person’s medical records, school records, financial records, facility licensing files, and certain information regarding the State’s contracting process. RSA 91-A lists the full scale of exemptions.
What is a "government record?"
A government record means any information that has been created, accepted, or obtained by, or on behalf of, any public body or agency during its official functions. This includes written communications and other information in paper, electronic, or other physical form.
What types of documents can I request under RSA 91-A?
Only pre-existing records are required to be released under the Right-to-Know Law. This means you may only request documents which already exist, and DHHS is not required to create any information you are requesting if the information is not already maintained or readily available. This also means you may not make any requests for future documents.
Types of records you may request include, but are not limited to, e-mail, text messages, meeting minutes, and documents such as reports and contracts.
What records are exempt from release under 91-A?
There are several exemptions provided by the Right-to-Know Law, meaning DHHS is not required to disclose them to the public. Exemptions include but are not limited to:
- Drafts of documents
- Personnel records
- Medical records of an individual
- Public assistance records of an individual
- Written legal advice from DHHS’ legal counsel (also known as attorney/client privilege)
The full list of exemptions can be found in RSA 91-A:5.
How do I request records under RSA 91-A?
You may submit a request to DHHS detailing the information you are looking for. Please be as specific as possible and include a date range of the records you are looking for, if applicable. (e.g.; reports from January 2021 to present). Requests may be submitted by:
- Email: email@example.com
- Fax: 603-271-5590
- Mail: 129 Pleasant Street, Concord, NH 03301
Is there a cost to request records under RSA 91-A?
RSA 91-A:4, IV(d) permits the Department to charge requestors a reasonable fee to cover the costs of producing/reviewing/redacting records. If the information you are requesting is readily available, you will not be charged a fee. However, if the information you are requesting needs to be compiled, reviewed, and redacted, you may be charged for the cost of producing those records. DHHS will always notify you of the projected costs before fulfilling your request.
You are free to request that the associated fees be waived; however, there is nothing in the statute requiring the Department to agree to the waiver. Waivers are decided on a case by case basis and are not guaranteed.
Is Right to Know the same as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
No, FOIA is similar, but not identical to, the Right to Know law. FOIA applies only to federal government departments and agencies; it does not apply to the State of New Hampshire agencies, county or municipal public bodies, or other public agencies. Likewise, the Right to Know law does not apply to the federal government.
Any requests made to DHHS citing FOIA will instead be addressed by DHHS under the provisions of the Right to Know law.