Requesting a Data Practices Advisory Opinion

The Commissioner of Administration has authority to issue non-binding advisory opinions on certain issues related to the Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13). No fee is required. The Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD) handles matters relating to advisory opinions and prepares drafts on behalf of the Commissioner. 

  • A government entity subject to Chapter 13 can request an opinion on questions relating to public access to data, rights of data subjects, and classification of data. (See Minnesota Statutes, section 13.072, subdivision 1(a).)
  • A person who disagrees with a government entity’s determination regarding data practices can request an opinion regarding the person’s rights as a subject of government data or right to access government data. (See Minnesota Statutes, section 13.072, subdivision 1(a).)

The Commissioner will not accept an opinion request in which the issues giving rise to the request are no longer timely. Advisory opinions are based upon the written record provided to the Commissioner. The Commissioner does not have fact-finding authority.

To make a request:

  • Write (email or letter) to the Commissioner of Administration, c/o IPAD at or 50 Sherburne Ave, 201 Admin Bldg., St. Paul, MN 55155
  • State that you are requesting an advisory opinion.
  • Explain the facts briefly. Provide a clear, concise statement of your position and provide an analysis of the issues. State the issues you want the Commissioner to address.
  • Provide copies of any related documentation or correspondence, including a copy of the original data request (if applicable) and any response, as well as citations to any relevant statutes, rules, or case law. Our process does not allow for rebuttals, so this is your opportunity to submit a complete explanation and all relevant documentation that you want the Commissioner to consider in the opinion.
  • Please let us know if you are or have been involved in litigation relating to the data practices issue. The Commissioner will not accept an opinion request on an issue that is currently in court or has been the subject of a judge's order or decision.
  • The Commissioner does not accept anonymous opinion requests.  (If your request is accepted and the data at issue reveal private data about you, the opinion can refer to you using a pseudonym.)

  • Note to government requesters: Government entities requesting an opinion are allowed to provide not public information to the Commissioner as part of an opinion request. (See section 13.072, subd. 4). If you provide not public data, please mark that data clearly, provide both a redacted and unredacted copy and include the statutes upon which you relied. IPAD will maintain the data in the same manner as the government entity.

Upon receiving your request, the Commissioner will evaluate it: 

  • The Commissioner’s authority to issue advisory opinions is permissive.  This means the Commissioner has the right to refuse your opinion request.  If the Commissioner rejects your opinion request, IPAD will mail you a letter within five business days.
  • If the Commissioner needs more information to move forward with your opinion request, IPAD will contact you.
  • If the Commissioner accepts your request, IPAD will send you a confirmation letter.    

Please contact IPAD before submitting an opinion request if you have questions as to whether the Commissioner has authority to address your concerns. This will give IPAD a chance to discuss the issues in question with you and to determine whether they fall within the Commissioner’s authority, and specify the information/documentation IPAD will need as part of the opinion request.