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 authorized 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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Presentation to State Association of Boroughs – Solicitors’ CLE

9 August 2018

Earlier today, the OOR’s Deputy Director, Nathan Byerly, and our Chief of Training & Outreach, George Spiess, took part in a CLE program for borough solicitors. Here’s the presentation they used: Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs – August 9, 2018 (PDF) Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs – August 9, 2018 (PPTX) Advertisements


Twitter Thread: RTKL Deadlines

6 August 2018

Here’s a Twitter thread I posted recently exploring deadlines under the Right-to-Know Law. Deadlines. Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law (#RTKL) has many. First, an agency must respond to you within 5 (agency) business days after you submit a request. /1 — Erik Arneson (@ErikOpenRecords) August 2, 2018 Next, the agency can take an extension of up to … Continue reading Twitter Thread: RTKL Deadlines


Twitter Thread: RTKL Procedural Issues

3 August 2018

Here’s a Twitter thread I posted recently exploring some common procedural issues which arise under the Right-to-Know Law. Friday afternoon seems like a good time to explore some Right-to-Know Law procedural issues, right? Tweets from @OpenRecordsPA will be used for these examples. #RTKL #OpenGov #Pennsylvania — Erik Arneson (@ErikOpenRecords) July 20, 2018 I'll focus today … Continue reading Twitter Thread: RTKL Procedural Issues


Presentation to Committee of Seventy Interns

2 August 2018

Earlier this week, a group of interns from the Committee of Seventy visited the Office of Open Records in Harrisburg to discuss the Right-to-Know Law and the OOR. It was a great discussion, and I very much appreciate them visiting. Here’s the presentation I used to help frame the discussion: Committee of Seventy Interns – … Continue reading Presentation to Committee of Seventy Interns


Presentation to State Association of Boroughs

11 June 2018

Earlier today, I took part in the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs’ annual conference in Hershey. It was a great discussion, and I very much appreciate the invitation. Here’s the presentation I used: Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs – June 11, 2018 – PDF Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs – June 11, 2018 – PPTX


Federal Court Says Public Officials Can’t Block Twitter Users

23 May 2018

A federal court today ruled that President Donald J. Trump cannot block people from following his @realDonaldTrump account on Twitter. The impact of the ruling, however, is not limited to the president. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote, “This case requires us to consider … Continue reading Federal Court Says Public Officials Can’t Block Twitter Users


Presentation to CCAP Solicitors’ Conference

4 May 2018

Earlier today, I took part in a discussion about the Right-to-Know Law at the 2018 CCAP Solicitors’ Conference in Harrisburg. Other participants included attorneys Craig J. Staudenmaier and J. Stephen Feinour from Nauman Smith. The panel was moderated by J. Chadwick Schnee, Berks County’s First Assistant Solicitor. It was a great discussion, and I very … Continue reading Presentation to CCAP Solicitors’ Conference


54 Training Sessions in 2017

3 May 2018

More than 1,900 people attended official Office of Open Records training sessions in 2017. We traveled the state again, including visits to Charleroi, Doylestown, Grove City, Pittsburgh, Roaring Branch, and Summerdale. The OOR provides training on the Right-to-Know Law and the Sunshine Act. We’re back on the road in 2018 — and this year we’ll … Continue reading 54 Training Sessions in 2017


110 Mediations in 2017

3 May 2018

The Office of Open Records conducted 110 Right-to-Know Law mediations in 2017. Our mediation program can be an effective way to resolve disputes between requesters and agencies. Many of our Appeals Officers are also trained mediators and can conduct mediations via telephone or in person. When a mediation is successful, the appeal is withdrawn — … Continue reading 110 Mediations in 2017


Map: Appeals in 2017 by County

3 May 2018

More Right-to-Know Law appeals were filed involving local agencies in Allegheny County — including the county itself, school districts, authorities, municipalities, etc. — than in any other county in 2017. (Allegheny County is home to about 130 municipalities and about 40 school districts.) The top 10 counties by this measure were: Allegheny, 166 Philadelphia, 157 … Continue reading Map: Appeals in 2017 by County


Docket Date Title County Status
2018-1478 08/17/2018 Schmidt v. Pennsylvania State Police Commonwealth Dismissed: Premature
2018-1470 08/17/2018 Myers v. Perry County Perry Dismissed: Untimely
2018-1306 08/17/2018 Monighan v. Franklin County Franklin Denied
2018-1284 08/17/2018 Montemuro v. Jim Thorpe Area School District Carbon Partially Granted/Partially Denied
2018-1238 08/17/2018 Benedon v. Philadelphia School District Philadelphia Denied: Moot
2018-1111 08/17/2018 Barnett v. Pennsylvania Department of State Commonwealth Granted
2018-1098 08/17/2018 Dailey v. Elizabeth Township Allegheny Withdrawn
Date Organization
August 21, 2018, 7:00 PM Harrisburg CATCH (Concerned About the Children of Harrisburg)
September 11, 2018, 9:00 AM Ross Township
September 24, 2018, 1:00 PM Northeastern Education Intermediate Unit
September 25, 2018, 9:00 AM Colonial Intermediate Unit 20
September 26, 2018, 8:00 AM Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS)
September 28, 2018, 9:00 AM Allegheny Intermediate Unit