How to Request Public Records

The Department of Social and Health Services provides records as required by the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56) and Administrative Policy 05.02.

DSHS believes in the importance of the public’s right to know about its operations and activities. Many public documents are available on the DSHS website and may be located by using the search function on the site.

If the information you are looking for is not available on the website, or if you are in search of client records, you have the option to submit a public records request. You can use the Request for Records form or directly send your inquiry to:

DSHS Public Records Officer
Office of Information Governance
PO Box 45135
Olympia WA 98504-5135

Phone: (360) 902-8484
Fax: (360) 902-7855

DSHS rules about processing public records requests are located in Chapter 388-01 WAC.

How to Request a Copy of a Public Record

You may make a public disclosure request to any DSHS office. You should ask to contact the Public Records Coordinator appointed for that office. If you don’t know which office has the records you seek or are seeking records from different parts of DSHS, you can send your request to the Public Records Officer, as shown above.

If your request includes a list of individuals please complete the Declaration on Commercial Purposes form certifying the list will not be used for commercial purposes.

Confidential and Exempt Records: State and federal law exempt some DSHS records from disclosure because they contain client information. By law, DSHS may not disclose these records outside DSHS or its authorized partners with limited exceptions. Certain types of personal information about DSHS employees is also confidential.

If you are requesting confidential records about someone other than yourself, you must have that person’s permission to obtain those records. You can use the DSHS Authorization form or another form that complies with state and federal laws to allow you to see or obtain copies of those records. If you are a client and want someone to have copies of your records, you may fill out the DSHS Authorization form. Attorneys, please note that a subpoena is generally not sufficient to obtain DSHS client records. If you do not have permission or other legal authority to have confidential records, DSHS will deny your request for records.

Charges for Copying

Under the Public Records Act, agencies may charge to recover the actual cost of providing copies of records when fulfilling requests. DSHS charges and fees are outlined in RCW 42.56.120 and WAC 388-01-080. The current DSHS fee schedule is posted below:

Department of Social and Health Services
Public Records Act Fee Schedule
No fee
Inspection by requester at agency office.
No fee
Accessing or downloading records the office routinely posts on its website.
15 Cents per page
Photocopy of paper records, or printed (paper) copies of electronic records (applies if requester asks for paper copies).
10 Cents per page
Electronic copy of scanned paper records (applies if paper copies must be scanned in order to produce in electronic format).
5 Cents for each 4 electronic files or attachments
Files and Attachments loaded and delivered by email, secure file transfer site, or digital storage media plus cost of the storage media (CD, DVD or USB drive).
10 cents per gigabyte
Files and Attachments loaded and delivered by email, secure file transfer site, on a digital storage media plus cost of the storage media (CD, DVD or USB drive).
Media Storage
Disc Sleeve
Envelope Mailer
CD – 13 cents
6 cents
46 cents
$2.65 plus copies cost above
DVD – 53 cents
6 cents
46 cents
$3.05 plus copies cost above
USB - $4.99
46 cents
$10.20 plus copies cost above
Varies upon size
Varies upon weight
Varies by page count
  • Copy charges above may be combined to the extent more than one type of charge applies to copies responsive to a particular request.
  • Copy charges will be assessed for each installment of records provided to the requester.
  • Copy charges above may be waived in very limited circumstances as set forth in WAC 388-01-080.
  • An Agency can charge a $2 flat fee for any request as an alternative to authorized fees. This only if the costs allowed (as above) would be equal to or more than $2. 
Cost Varies – Per other statutes
Records for which other costs are authorized pursuant to laws outside RCW 42.56.
Cost Varies – Actual cost
(based upon request)
Records sent to an outside vendor due to their unusual size or format or other factors making copying by office unfeasible. Mailing/delivery and packaging costs.
Cost Varies – Actual cost(based upon request)
Data compilations prepared or accessed as a customized service. Cost is in addition to above fees for copies, including mailing/delivery and packaging costs.
10% of estimated cost to fulfill request
May be requested when total cost of production is known.

Per WAC 388-01-080, the department’s payment procedures for charges and fees are as follows:

  • Requestors are required to pay for copies in advance of receiving the records.
  • Payment should be made by check or money order to: Department of Social and Health Services.
  • Responsive records may be provided in installments as allowable under RCW 42.56.120(4). Each installment must be either paid for or inspected prior to fulfilling the remainder of the request.
  • The department will close a request when the requestor fails to pay for a request, or an installment, or for the required 10% deposit within 30 days.