What is an “open records/public information request”?

An open records or public information request is a request for public information contained in the files or records of a Texas governmental agency, including the Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending. Requests are governed by the Texas Public Information Act, Texas Government Code Chapter 552.

An open records or public information request must be for inspection or copies of an existing document or record. We are not required to generate a new document in order to respond to a request.

What is “public information”?

Public information is any information collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or in connection with the transaction of official business by a governmental body, or for a governmental body if the governmental body owns the information or has a right of access to it.

How do I request public information?

To request public information from us, the request must be in writing, and must be mailed, hand-delivered, or emailed to us as follows:

Open Records Request
Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending
2601 North Lamar, Suite 201 Austin, Texas 78705
public.information@sml.texas.gov

Public information requests may also be made by submitting a filled out version of the form found at the Texas Attorney General website to the mailing and/or email address listed above.

Phone inquiries may be made to (512) 475-1350.

What should I include in my request?

Complete contact information is essential, so please be sure to include your name, address, and phone number. This additional information is particularly important if you submit an email request. Describe the documents that you desire with as much specificity as possible. If you do not know exactly what documents may be involved, describe the information you desire as specifically as possible, and we will determine if responsive documents exist. If your description is not clear or could result in a very large number of documents, we will contact you to determine if the request can be clarified or narrowed. You may disclose your purpose to us if you believe that knowledge will help us locate the documents you seek, but this disclosure is not requested or required. We are prohibited by law from asking you the purpose of your request.

How long will it take to fill my request?

We will respond to a request for clearly public information as promptly as is reasonably possible, but not later than 10 business days after receipt of the request. If you have a particular need for expedited treatment, we will attempt to meet that need but cannot guarantee an early response date.

Is there any information maintained by the Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending that I cannot inspect or obtain a copy of?

Yes. We are prevented from disclosing certain information because the information is confidential by law. The following information is confidential by statute:

Financial institutions, generally. Information, regardless of the circumstances under which the information is obtained, regarding a financial institution or a shareholder, participant, officer, director, manager, affiliate, or service provider of a financial institution, other than information in a public statement or the public portion of a call report or profit and loss statement and all related files and records of the Department. Tex. Fin. Code § 96.351.

Information, the release of which might jeopardize an ongoing investigation of potentially unlawful activities. Tex. Fin. Code § 96.355(a).

Residential Mortgage Loan Industry. The Commissioner must keep confidential any background information obtained in connection with each application for the issuance or renewal of a license. The Department may not release or disclose the information unless:  (1) the information is a public record at the time the Commissioner obtains the information; or (2) the Commissioner releases the information: (a) under order from a court; (b) to a governmental agency. Tex. Fin. Code §§156.206(c) and 157.0132(c).

Information obtained by the Commissioner during an inspection or an investigation is confidential unless disclosure of the information is permitted or required by other law. [1] Tex. Fin. Code §§ 156.301(f),157.021(f), 158.102(c), and 159.252(e).

Information contained in the mortgage call report related to residential mortgage loan origination volume or other trade information, including information used to determine statistical entries in the report related to loan origination volume, is confidential and may not be disclosed by the commissioner, the commissioner’s authorized designee, or any other employee of the department. Tex. Fin. Code §§ 156.213(b) and 157.020(b).

A requirement under federal or state law regarding the privacy or confidentiality of information or material provided to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry, and a privilege arising under federal or state law, or under the rules of a federal or state court, continue to apply to the information or material after the disclosure of the information or material to the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry. The information and material may be shared with federal and state regulatory officials with mortgage industry oversight authority without the loss of any privilege or confidentiality protections afforded by federal or state laws. Such privilege or confidential information or material may not be subject to disclosure under any federal or state law governing the disclosure to the public of information held by an officer or an agency of the federal government or this state; or subpoena, discovery, or admission into evidence in a private civil action or administrative proceeding. However, a person who is the subject of information or material in the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry may waive, wholly or partly, any privilege held by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry with respect to the information or material. A regulatory official may enter into an agreement or sharing arrangement with another governmental agency, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators, or other associations representing appropriate governmental agencies as established by rule of the rulemaking authority or order issued by the regulatory official. These protections also apply to information and material shared under such an agreement or sharing arrangement.To the extent of a conflict between this provision (as more fully laid out in Tex. Fin. Code § 180.062) and the Public Information Act, or another state law relating to the disclosure of confidential information or information or material described as follows, this provision controls to the extent the Public Information Act, or the other law provides less confidentiality or a weaker privilege than is provided by this provision. Tex. Fin. Code § 180.062.

In addition to these mandatory confidentiality provisions, the Public Information Act itself provides certain exceptions to disclosure. Although not an all-inclusive list, we will generally withhold the following documents or information:

  • Information contained in or relating to an examination, operating, or condition reports of a savings bank or savings and loan association. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.112(a).
  • With respect to our present and former employees or officials who affirmatively so elect, the phone number, home address, emergency contact information, social security number, or information that reveals whether the employee or official has family members. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.024(a).
  • Information in the Department’s personnel files, the disclosure of which would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.102(a).
  • Internal memoranda or documents which reflect advice, recommendations, and opinions reflecting our policy-making processes. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.111.
  • Information subject to attorney-client privilege. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.107.
  • Other information that is confidential and/or involves details of intimate personal affairs, and for which the public has no particular cognizable interest. Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.101.

If we withhold information that we consider to be confidential by law, we are required to request an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General on the propriety of not disclosing the information, unless an opinion specifically dealing with the information at issue has previously been issued. You will receive a copy of any correspondence requesting an opinion and are entitled to submit a response to the Attorney General if you disagree with the Department’s decision. You will also receive a copy of the Attorney General’s response.

What does it cost to receive public information?

The permissible charges for public information are set by the Office of Attorney General and may be found at 1 TAC §§70.1 et seq.; see also 7 TAC §76.108. In general, if the number of copies in your request is 50 or less, the charge will be $0.10 per page plus the cost of postage (or other delivery method, at your request); if more than 50 pages, the charge will be $0.10 per page plus personnel costs necessary to compile the documents at a rate of $15 per hour, in addition to the charge for postage. If the estimated cost of fulfilling your request exceeds $100, the Department will notify you and require a reasonable deposit be received by the Department prior to processing your request.

When do I pay for the information provided?

We normally will provide the requested documents prior to payment and invoice you for the charges. As noted above, if the estimated cost of fulfilling your request exceeds $100, we will require a reasonable deposit prior to processing your request. If you have an unpaid invoice from a previous request, you will be required to pay for the present request in full prior to delivery. In addition, if previous unpaid invoices exceed $100, we will require a deposit equal to the previous unpaid invoices prior to fulfilling the present request.

Additional information:

Additional information regarding the Public Information Act may be found at the Texas Attorney General website.

[1] Or, if pursuant to Tex. Fin. Code § 158.102(c), unless disclosure of the information is permitted or required by court order.

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