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

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 … Continue reading Presentation to State Association of Boroughs


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


Issues Raised by Agencies During RTKL Appeals in 2017

3 May 2018

In 2017, for the first time ever, the Office of Open Records tracked the issues raised by agencies and addressed by the OOR’s Appeals Officers during Right-to-Know Law appeals. This data gives some insight into the reasons most commonly raised by agencies for denying access to records. Of the 30 exemptions specifically enumerated in Section … Continue reading Issues Raised by Agencies During RTKL Appeals in 2017


532 Appeals Involving State Agencies in 2017

3 May 2018

In 2017, the Department of Corrections was involved in 23.3% of Right-to-Know Law appeals filed against state agencies. Here’s the complete list: Department of Corrections, 23.3% State Police, 13.7% Department of Environmental Protection, 8.3% Department of State, 7.0% Department of Transportation, 6.2% Department of Health, 5.5% Board of Probation and Parole, 5.1% Department of Human … Continue reading 532 Appeals Involving State Agencies in 2017


1,782 Appeals Involving Local Agencies in 2017

3 May 2018

In 2017, municipal governments (cities, boroughs, and townships) were involved in 43.1% of Right-to-Know Law appeals filed against local agencies. Here’s the complete list: Local Education Agencies, 23.0% Townships, 20.7% Counties, 18.7% Cities, 11.3% Boroughs, 11.1% Police Departments, 6.2% Authorities, 5.1% Fire Departments, 0.8% Other, 3.0% This information is from the OOR’s 2017 Annual Report.


2,434 Appeals Filed in 2017

3 May 2018

2017 was the third-busiest year ever for the Office of Open Records in terms of the number of Right-to-Know Law appeals filed. In addition, the appeals continued to grow in complexity, with more sophisticated arguments being made and more nuanced issues being presented in many cases. Nearly two-thirds (63.5%) of all appeals filed in 2017 … Continue reading 2,434 Appeals Filed in 2017


Docket Date Title County Status
2018-1261 07/17/2018 Darden v. Pennsylvania Department of State Commonwealth Dismissed: Insufficient
2018-1253 07/17/2018 Garrell v. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Commonwealth Dismissed: Premature
2018-1252 07/17/2018 Garrell v. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Commonwealth Dismissed: Premature
2018-1248 07/17/2018 Garland v. Pennsylvania State Police Commonwealth Dismissed: Failure to State Grounds
2018-1245 07/17/2018 Lowry v. Allegheny County Prothonotary Allegheny Dismissed: Untimely
2018-1244 07/17/2018 Lowry v. Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office Allegheny Dismissed: Untimely
2018-1243 07/17/2018 Mitchell-Bey v. Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Montgomery Dismissed: Lack of Jurisdiction
Date Organization
August 15, 2018, 9:00 AM Quakertown Community School District
September 25, 2018, 9:00 AM Colonial Intermediate Unit 20
October 24, 2018, 12:00 PM PA Association of Boroughs Webinar