Webinar on 3/6 – Request Form Plus Open Q&A

Office of Open Records LogoTomorrow (March 6, 2019) at 10:30 a.m., the Office of Open Records will host a webinar to explain recent changes to the Standard Right-to-Know Law Request Form and to answer RTKL-related questions during an open Q&A session.

I’ll be part of the webinar, as will George Spiess, the OOR’s Director of Training and Outreach.

You can join us by signing up for the webinar here.

We plan (subject to our ability to master the technology involved) to post the session on YouTube sometime after the event concludes.

New Website, New Features

Open records_logo stackedToday, the Office of Open Records website was completely revamped.

This post highlights five new features on the website, but first a note: You can continue to find all of the same information that’s always been available on the OOR website. The site has been reorganized, but nothing has been removed.

ONLINE APPEALS FORM

There’s a new online form to fill out when you file an appeal with the OOR.

The goal of this new form is to save everyone time and to help ensure that you submit all of the required information. When you click “submit,” your appeal is instantly transmitted to the Office of Open Records. If you enter a valid email address, you’ll also receive a copy by email for your own records.

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Requesters: Keep a Copy of Your Request

When you submit a request under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law, it’s very important that you keep a copy of the request. (An electronic copy is fine.)

This is important because if you’re denied access to records and decide to file an appeal with the Office of Open Records, you’ll need to provide four things:

  • A copy of the Right-to-Know request;
  • A copy of the Agency’s response (unless the request was “deemed denied,” meaning the Agency didn’t respond at all);
  • A written statement explaining the grounds on which the requester asserts that the record is a public record; and
  • A written statement addressing any grounds stated by the agency for denying the request.

If the case is appealed beyond the OOR (to a Court of Common Pleas or to Commonwealth Court), the OOR is required to provide a certified copy of the full record, which must include all four of those items.

By the way, the best way to file an appeal with the OOR is to use our Appeal Form, which can be downloaded in PDF or Word format. We’ve designed the form to be as simple and user-friendly as possible.

New Appeal Form Available

As a general rule, when a government agency denies access to records in Pennsylvania, the requester can appeal to the Office of Open Records.

Today, the OOR published a new Appeal Form. Our goal was to make it easier to understand and simpler to complete. The new form is available on the OOR website in two versions:

If you prefer a standard PDF rather than a fillable PDF, that’s available here:

Much more information about how to file an appeal is also available on the OOR website.

Previously, there were two Appeal Forms: one for standard denials, and one for “deemed denials.” (A “deemed denial” occurs when an agency doesn’t respond to a requester within the time limit established by the Right-to-Know Law.) The new Appeal Form replaces both of the previous versions. The OOR will still accept appeals filed on the previous forms.