In 1974, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Data Practices Act and soon after, the Department of Administration created a Data Privacy Unit. This subagency within the Department of Administration has undergone name changes and restructuring over the years, but their work has always focused on assisting the state with issues around data practices.
The IPAD office has been variously named, and referred to in the media, in the following ways: Data Privacy Unit, Data Privacy Division, Data Practices Division, Information Policy Analysis (IPA), Public Information Policy Analysis (PIPA), Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD), and finally the Data Practices Office (DPO).
In 1987 the Legislature created "an office of information systems management" under the Department of Administration, referred to more commonly as the Information Policy Office (see Laws of Minnesota 1987, chap. 404, sec. 80). Though not explicitly fleshed out in the law, this new office had two divisions: the Information Strategies and Planning Division and the Public Information Policy Analysis Division (PIPA). The former dealt with policies, guidelines, and standards for information system use by state agencies, while PIPA, the precursor to IPAD, dealt with data practices, records management, and access to public information.
The Legislature gave the Commissioner of Administration the authority to issue advisory opinions in 1993 (see Laws of Minnesota 1993, chap. 192, sec. 38). That law went into effect on August 1, 1993 and the first opinion was issued on August 24, 1993. The Comissioner, in collaboration with IPAD, has the authority to issue two types of advisory opinions: Data Practices Advisory Opinions and Open Meeting Law Advisory Opinions.
According to IPAD's website, "a government entity can request a [data practices] opinion on any question concerning public access to government data, rights of subjects of data, or classification of data. An individual can request an opinion regarding that individual's rights as a subject of government data. Members of the public can request an opinion on the right to access government data. Data practices advisory opinions are not binding on the government whose data are the subject of the opinion; however, the opinion must be given deference by a court or other tribunal in a proceeding involving the data."
Again, per their website, "a public body can request an [open meeting law] opinion on any question related to the body's duties under Chapter 13D. A member of the public who disagrees with the manner in which members of a governing body perform their duties under Chapter 13D can request an opinion. Open Meeting Law advisory opinions are not binding on the public body that is the subject of the opinion; however, the opinion must be given deference by a court or other tribunal in a proceeding involving the data."