In 2010 and 2011 the Iowa General Assembly approved a supplemental $1.00 recording fee for the purpose of redacting personally identifiable information (PII) from public documents posted online. The supplemental fee sunset on June 30, 2011. At the time, approximately 10 million documents were processed and about 214,000 documents with PII were redacted. When the primary redaction project was concluded, more than $550,000 in carry forward funds from the redaction project were set aside in a redaction reserve fund. Since that time, these funds have continued to be used to remove PII from older documents as counties have converted them from paper to digital format.

Today nearly 20 million documents are now posted for online access. Every one of them has been reviewed for PII, and any private information found has been redacted. Iowa Land Records is about to complete a project to add more than 230,000 documents from the counties of Pottawattamie and Dubuque to the online database.

Redaction Examples

A sample redaction of social security numbers on a mortgage document.

However, resources to continue the redaction of PII from older documents are about to run out. In 2017 the Iowa Land Records governing board was able to reallocate some operating funds to the redaction reserve, but that option is more difficult now due to other budget constraints. As of July 1, 2019 only $38,292.00 remained in the redaction reserve, and most of those resources will be consumed by fall 2019.

The Electronic Services System Coordinating Committee, the governing board for Iowa Land Records, will be exploring options for funding the redaction process and to continue efforts to make more records available online for the public and to the real estate industry. A new or expanded funding source and additional flexibility in spending authority from the Iowa General Assembly will be needed to address this issue.