Good government is a basic principle, built on the foundation that information must be communicated between governments and the public they serve. This vital exchange is the primary mission of the Office of Open Records (OOR).
The OOR was created by the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) signed on February 14, 2008 by Governor Ed Rendell. This law fundamentally changed access to government records in Pennsylvania by establishing a presumption that all records are public and available to citizens and requiring state and local governments to prove why they are legally justified in withholding records.
Prior to Pennsylvania’s RTKL, the state’s open records law was recognized as one of the worst in the United States. Since then, the OOR stands as one of a handful of similar state-level agencies that has binding authority over citizen access to government records. Recognizing the significance of this responsibility, the OOR strives to make fair and open final determinations on the status of public records.
The OOR is a quasi-judicial, independent agency led by an Executive Director who is appointed by the governor to a six-year term. Within the OOR, 22 employees oversee and decide thousands of appeals per year, as well as perform dozens of trainings on the RTKL and Pennsylvania’s open meetings law (the Sunshine Act).
The OOR also issues annual reports on the state of open records in Pennsylvania government, monitors hundreds of RTKL cases within the Pennsylvania court system, and answers citizen and media inquiries regarding transparency laws.