Issues Raised by Agencies During RTKL Appeals in 2017

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 708(b) of the RTKL, these 11 were raised most often in 2017:

  • Criminal Investigative Records, (b)(16), 156
  • Noncriminal Investigative Records, (b)(17), 127
  • Personal Identification Information, (b)(6), 104
  • Personal Security, (b)(1), 72
  • Internal, Predecisional Deliberations, (b)(10), 71
  • Public Safety, (b)(2), 65
  • Agency Employee Information, (b)(7), 34
  • Trade Secret / Confidential Proprietary Information, (b)(11), 32
  • Building, Infrastructure and Utility Safety, (b)(3), 29
  • Procurement Prior to Award of Contract, (b)(26), 20
  • Notes and Working Papers, (b)(12), 20

The OOR’s Appeals Officers also heard hundreds of cases in which the agency asserted that the requested records didn’t exist (426), the requested records weren’t in the possession of the agency (184), and the request wasn’t specific enough or asked questions rather than seeking records (117).

Many appeals heard by the OOR involve more than one exemption and/or other reasons for denying access to records.

We will continue to track this data in coming years. Over time, the comparison between years should become a useful tool.

This information is from the OOR’s 2017 Annual Report.

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