The Wisconsin public records law authorizes requesters to inspect or obtain copies of records maintained by government authorities. The identity of the requester or the reason why the requester wants particular records generally do not matter for purpose of the public records law. Records are presumed to be open for inspection and copying with some exceptions. Requirements of the public records law apply to records that exist at the time a public records request is made. The public records law does not require authorities to provide requested information if no responsive record exists, and generally does not require authorities to create new records in order to fulfill public records requests.
The open records law requires that responses be provided "as soon as practicable and without delay." Generally, the State Department of Justice has used 10 working days as a rule of thumb.
Requesters may be charged for specific tasks related to an open records request. These costs could include:
- Copying fees (for two or more pages)
- Reproduction costs (placing a record on a CD or similar)
- Mailing or shipping charges
- Location costs (staff time spent searching and examining for records)