How to File a Request

The first thing to do before filing a RTK request is to determine which Commonwealth or local agency is most likely to have the records you want. Next, determine who the Open Records Officer is (each agency is required to have one). More tips for filing effective RTK requests are available right here on our website.

How to File an Appeal

All appeals must be made in writing and must be submitted to the Office of Open Records within 15 business days from the mailing date of the Agency's response or the date that the request was deemed denied. If that timeframe expires before you provide the required information to the OOR, you lose your right to appeal and may need to file a new RTK request with the Agency.

Regulations Under Development

The Office of Open Records ("OOR") is in the process of promulgating procedural regulations as required by Section 504(a) of the Right-to-Know Law ("RTKL"). Through these regulations, the OOR intends to provide greater clarity of the requirements of both agencies and requesters.

Sunshine Act

The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, 65 Pa.C.S. §§ 701-716, requires agencies to deliberate and take official action on agency business in an open and public meeting. It requires that meetings have prior notice, and that the public can attend, participate, and comment before an agency takes that official action.

Training

The Office of Open Records ("OOR") conducts training on the Right-to-Know Law ("RTKL") at the request of groups that wish to learn about the application of the RTKL, including those seeking records and agencies responding to those requests. In addition, the OOR will often partner with various organizations or associations (such as the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the Pennsylvania State Associations of Township Supervisors, or the Pennsylvania State Associations of Boroughs) to provide a presenter or panelist.


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Washington County CCP Rules in Holding Cell Camera Case

30 March 2017

President Judge Katherine B. Emery of the Washington County Court of Common Pleas this week ruled that California Borough must release video from a holding cell in response to a Right-to-Know Request. Judge Emery’s decision upholds the Final Determination issued by the OOR in June 2016.


830 Right-to-Know Requests to the OOR in 2016

24 March 2017

In addition to deciding appeals filed under the Right-to-Know Law, the Office of Open Records processes hundreds of Right-to-Know requests every year. In 2016, we responded to 830 requests. Most requests filed with the OOR are misdirected: The requester isn’t really seeking OOR records; rather, they want records from another agency but mistakenly file the … Continue reading 830 Right-to-Know Requests to the OOR in 2016


119 Appeals Involving Agencies in Allegheny County

24 March 2017

More Right-to-Know Law appeals were filed in 2016 involving local agencies in Allegheny County — including the county itself, school districts, municipalities, etc. — than in any other county. This comes as little surprise, since Allegheny County is home to about 130 municipalities and more than 40 school districts. The top five counties by this … Continue reading 119 Appeals Involving Agencies in Allegheny County


10 Examples of Records the RTKL Provided Access to in 2016

24 March 2017

Here’s a sampling of the types of records which the Right-to-Know Law provided access to in 2016: $2 million paid by Philadelphia School District to defend itself in lawsuits related to a no-bid contract for surveillance cameras. More than $436,000 paid to defend former Attorney General Kathleen Kane in lawsuits filed by former employees. The … Continue reading 10 Examples of Records the RTKL Provided Access to in 2016


7 Top Appellate Court Decisions in 2016

24 March 2017

These are some of the most significant appellate court decisions issued in 2016 regarding Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law. PSEA v. OOR 148 A.3d 142 (Pa. 2016) The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that Article I, Section 1, of the state constitution protects personal information such as home addresses. When a record contains such personal information, a balancing … Continue reading 7 Top Appellate Court Decisions in 2016


1,077 Appeals Filed by Citizens in 2016

23 March 2017

More than half of the Right-to-Know Law appeals handled by the Office of Open Records last year were filed by everyday citizens, strong evidence that the RTKL is working for people across the state. Citizens filed 51% of last year’s appeals; inmates filed 34%; members of the media, 7.2%; companies, 6.8%; and government officials, 1%. … Continue reading 1,077 Appeals Filed by Citizens in 2016


Local & Commonwealth Agency Appeals in 2016

23 March 2017

Among local agencies, municipal governments (cities, boroughs, and townships) were involved in the most Right-to-Know Law appeals in 2016: 53%. If you include local police departments and fire departments, that percentage jumps to 63%. Among commonwealth agencies, the Department of Corrections (38.7%) was involved in more appeals than any other in 2016. The vast majority … Continue reading Local & Commonwealth Agency Appeals in 2016


2,102 Appeals Filed with the OOR in 2016

23 March 2017

The number of appeals filed in 2016 declined from 2015’s record-setting pace, but the complexity of issues presented in the cases continued to grow. Over the past five years, the average number of cases heard by the OOR is 2,342. Predictions are dangerous, especially when they’re printed in an annual report (and on this blog) … Continue reading 2,102 Appeals Filed with the OOR in 2016


Highlights from the OOR’s 2016 Annual Report

23 March 2017

The Office of Open Records’ Annual Report for 2016 is now available. I enjoy putting together these reports and think they provide good insight into how the Right-to-Know Law is working across Pennsylvania. Highlights from this year’s report include: 2,102 appeals were filed with the Office of Open Records in 2016. Of those, more than … Continue reading Highlights from the OOR’s 2016 Annual Report


Presentation at Sunshine Week CLE

21 March 2017

Earlier today, I was part of a panel discussion at a CLE hosted by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association at Widener Law Commonwealth in Harrisburg. It was an excellent event (even if last week’s snow did push it into the week after Sunshine Week!), and I appreciate the invitation to participate. Here’s the presentation I used: … Continue reading Presentation at Sunshine Week CLE


Docket Date Title County Status
2017-0857 04/24/2017 Braukus v. Reading City Berks Dismissed: Premature
2017-0855 04/24/2017 Braukus v. Reading City Berks Dismissed: Premature
2017-0854 04/24/2017 Braukus v. Reading City Berks Dismissed: Premature
2017-0853 04/24/2017 Braukus v. Reading City Berks Dismissed: Premature
2017-0851 04/24/2017 Braukus v. Reading City Berks Dismissed: Premature
2017-0847 04/24/2017 Braukus v. Reading City Berks Dismissed: Premature
2017-0680 04/24/2017 Sherry v. Lower Macungie Township Lehigh Withdrawn
Date Organization
April 25, 2017, 2:30 PM Berks County
May 1, 2017, 1:00 PM McNett Township
May 4, 2017, 9:00 AM South East Chapter of the Assessors' Association
May 8, 2017, 12:00 AM Bucks County Police Training Center
May 9, 2017, 9:00 AM Delaware Valley Insurance Trusts
May 16, 2017, 9:00 AM Delaware Valley Insurance Trusts