Annual Training in Harrisburg on Nov. 1

Open records_logo stackedThis year’s Office of Open Records (OOR) Annual Training session will take place on Thursday, Nov. 1, in Harrisburg.

Register here for the OOR’s annual training.

The training, which will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., will cover Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) and Sunshine Act, including:

  • An overview of important OOR resources available on the OOR website for both agencies and requesters to help with your RTKL practice.
  • A review of ethical issues in both the RTKL and the Sunshine Act. This session will discuss the ethical components of both laws and provide practice tips to ensure compliance.
  • An examination of relevant RTKL case law and notable OOR decisions from the past year. This session will also look at upcoming legal trends as well as proposed OOR regulations and the possible effect both could have on your RTKL practice.

The OOR’s Annual Training is free and open to everyone. (While everyone is welcome to attend, those most likely to benefit include elected and appointed public officials, Agency Open Records Officers, and attorneys who regularly deal with the RTKL and/or the Sunshine Act. The OOR will schedule separate sessions to focus on issues more of interest to requesters, such as this session on Oct. 11, 2018.)

The Annual Training can be attended in person or online via webinar.

This program is pending approval for CLE credit (ethics and regular).

Soon after the event, a video of the training will be available online.

Register here for the OOR’s annual training.

You can also see the OOR’s entire training calendar.

Podcast: Law Enforcement Records

Podcast Logo CroppedThe fifth episode of the Open Records in Pennsylvania podcast is now available.

This episode looks at how law enforcement records, including police video and audio recordings, are handled under the Right-to-Know Law.

Links:

Subscribe:

To subscribe on other podcast apps, search for “Open Records in Pennsylvania” to find our feed.

Listen:

Download:
Episode 5 of the Open Records in Pennsylvania podcast

If you have ideas for future episodes of the podcast, I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments below, tweet to @ErikOpenRecords or @OpenRecordsPA, or contact the OOR.

Social Media and Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law

Open records_logo stackedAs agencies across Pennsylvania use social media more often to communicate with residents, Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) requests for records related to social media are becoming more common.

Determining whether information related to social media — including social media posts, direct messages sent via social media, and other types of information — qualifies as a “record” or a “public record” under the RTKL is no different than determining whether an email, a memo, or a map is a “record” or a “public record.”

First, agencies should determine whether a request is seeking a record, defined as “information … that documents a transaction or activity of an agency…”

If the request is seeking a record, agencies should determine whether it is a public record, defined as “A record, including a financial record, … that (1) is not exempt under Section 708, (2) is not exempt … under any other Federal or State law or regulation or judicial order or decree; or (3) is not protected by a privilege.”

Examining some decisions from the Office of Open Records (OOR) and the Commonwealth Court may be useful. Here’s a look at several of the most significant decisions involving social media.

Boyer v. Wyoming Borough (OOR Dkt. No.: AP 2018-1110)

The request sought records related to the mayor’s Facebook page, including a list of page administrators and editors and all comments made and removed or blocked from the page.

Continue reading

Draft Update to Standard RTK Request Form

The Office of Open Records (OOR) is required by Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) to “develop a uniform [request] form which shall be accepted by all Commonwealth and local agencies” (Section 505(a) of the RTKL).

We’ve developed a draft update to the Standard RTK Request Form and we want to know what you think. The goal is simple: Improve the form by making it more useful and easier to understand for both agencies and requesters.

Please take a look at the draft update, compare it to the existing form, and share any comments or suggestions by Sept. 30, 2018.

Note: When the update is finalized, the PDF version of the form will be a fillable PDF, just as the current form is. The draft version does not include that feature.

Draft Update to the Standard RTK Request Form – draft as of Sept. 13, 2018

Current Standard RTK Request Form – as of Sept. 13, 2018

Contact the OOR to share your thoughts

Podcast: Two RTKL Surveys

Podcast Logo CroppedThe fourth episode of the Open Records in Pennsylvania podcast is now available.

After a lengthy (far too lengthy) break, the podcast returns to discuss the results of two statewide surveys released earlier this year.

Links:
More about the OOR survey
More about the LBFC survey
Oct. 11, 2018, Requester Training
The Office of Open Records

Subscribe:
Open Records in Pennsylvania podcast on Apple Podcats / iTunes
Open Records in Pennsylvania podcast on Stitcher

To subscribe on other podcast apps, search for “Open Records in Pennsylvania” to find our feed.

Listen:

Download:
Episode 4 of the Open Records in Pennsylvania podcast

If you have ideas for future episodes of the podcast, I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments below, tweet to @ErikOpenRecords or @OpenRecordsPA, or send an email to openrecords (at) pa (dot) gov.

Oct. 11 in Harrisburg: RTKL Training for Requesters

The Office of Open Records is hosting a training session on Thursday, Oct. 11, at our office in Harrisburg which will focus on Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) issues of importance to requesters.

Topics to be covered include how to write a good RTKL request, accessing information in databases, significant deadlines in the RTKL, how to appeal a RTKL denial, and more. There will also be time for questions and answers.

Sign up here to join us on Oct. 11.

NOTE: This training will be most useful for interested residents and members of the media. It will be of limited value to agency employees and agency attorneys.

If you’re interested in this kind of training but can’t join us for this event, the presentation used in the training will be posted to this blog, we’ll be providing additional requester training sessions (including webinars) in the future, and we’ll be creating more YouTube videos focused on requester issues.

Visit the OOR website for more information about upcoming OOR training sessions and to subscribe to the OOR’s email newsletter.