PaFOICPennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition

Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition


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Download the state’s
Standard RTK Request Form

May be used to request records from any public agency in the state.

TIMELINE

  • Response to requests: An agency has five business days from the date its open records officer receives the request to issue an initial response.
  • Final response: If agency says it needs more time, it may take up to an additional 30 calendar days to provide the records or issue a final response.
  • Appeals: A denial of records may be appealed within 15 business days of the mailing date of the denial or partial denial.


The Right to Know Law presumes that ALL records held by a public agency are public. However, there are many exemptions to the law that permit agencies to withhold certain types of documents. These are known as the “exceptions.”

Quick links to
RTK LAW EXCEPTIONS

1i. Loss of funds
1ii. Personal security
2. Public safety
3. Infrastructure security
4. Computer security
5. Health records
6iA&B. Personal identification information
6iC. Law enforcement/judicial security
7. Personnel records
8. Collective bargaining
9. Drafts of bills &c
10. Internal predecisional deliberations
11. Trade secrets
12. Notes and working papers
13. Donations
14. Unpublished academic material
15. Academic transcripts and exams
16. Criminal investigative records
17. Non-criminal investigative records
18. 911 records
19. DNA and RNA records
20. Autopsy records
21i. Draft minutes
21ii. Executive session minutes
22. Real estate appraisals
22. Environmental reviews
22. Audits / Evaluations
23. Library circulation records
24. Certain archived material
25. Sensitive geographical sites
26. Pre-award contract bids
27. Insurance communications
28. Social services
29. Constituent letters
30. Identity of minors


The exceptions themselves include language making some records public, either specifically or by inference in the way the exception is written.

Quick links to
REVERSE EXCEPTIONS
6ii. Public employee names, positions, salaries
7iii. Passing test scores at local agencies
7iv. Employment application of individuals hired by public agency
7viii. Final action resulting in demotion or discharge.
8i. Final or executed contract in collective bargaining
8ii. Final award or order of arbitrator in labor dispute or grievance
10ii. Record presented to quorum for deliberation at a public meeting
10iii. Application for state funds
10iv. Public opinion surveys, polls, focus groups, marketing research
13. Donations intended to remunerate or benefit named public official or employee
16. Police blotter information and traffic reports.
17viA. Imposition of a fine or civil penalty, suspension of license or permit, or executed settlement agreement.
18. 911 time response logs; 911 recording or transcript determined to be in public interest.
20. Name of deceased, cause and manner of death.
21. Draft minutes of meeting at next regularly scheduled meeting.
22. Real estate appraisals, engineering, environmental reviews after decision is made.
25. Archeological or endangered species site if already known to public
26. Bids after contract awarded or rejection of all bids.
27. Insurance or administrative service contract, insurance financial records.
29. Correspondence between legislator and lobbyist.
• Financial records exempt from exceptions.
• Aggregated data exempt from exceptions.


ELECTRONIC
RECORDS


If the records you're interested in are available electronically, an agency must make them available to you that way.

Agencies may charge for paper copies … but not for electronic copies. When requesting records, you may ask that records be emailed to you.

And if a record is maintained electronically only, an agency MUST make a paper copy if you request it. (Paper is always an option, although duplication fees may apply.)

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Words to remember
“A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both.”

— James Madison

DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE LAW
Our PDF version of the Right to Know Law is bookmarked and searchable, making it easy to find the section you are looking for.

PaFOIC “QUICK GUIDE” TO THE NEW LAW
Our comprehensive easy-to-read guide to the new law, in a Q&A format. Find answers to most of your questions here. Includes a copy of the state's standard Right to Know Request form.

ABOUT THIS PAGE:
To navigate to specific sections of the law in the text of the law below, click on chapter or section titles in the Table of Contents. Where one section of the law cites another section, those references are also navigable links.


Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
RIGHT TO KNOW LAW
Act 3 of 2008

Providing for access to public information, for a designated open-records officer in each Commonwealth agency, local agency, judicial agency and legislative agency, for procedure, for appeal of agency determination, for judicial review and for the Office of Open Records; imposing penalties; providing for reporting by State-related institutions; requiring the posting of certain State contract information on the Internet; and making related repeals.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1. PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS
Section 101.     Short title
Section 102.     Definitions

CHAPTER 3. REQUIREMENTS AND PROHIBITIONS
Section 301.     Commonwealth agencies
Section 302.     Local agencies
Section 303.     Legislative agencies
Section 304.     Judicial agencies
Section 305.     Presumption
Section 306.     Nature of document

CHAPTER 5. ACCESS
Section 501.     Scope of chapter.
Section 502.     Open-records officer.
Section 503.     Appeals officer.
Section 504.     Regulations and policies.
Section 505.     Uniform form.
Section 506.     Requests.
Section 507.     Retention of records.

CHAPTER 7. PROCEDURE
Section 701.     Access.
Section 702.     Requests.
Section 703.     Written requests.
Section 704.     Electronic access.
Section 705.     Creation of record.
Section 706.     Redaction
Section 707.     Production of certain records.
Section 708.     Exceptions for public records.

CHAPTER 9. AGENCY RESPONSE
Section 901.     General rule.
Section 902.     Extension of time.
Section 903.     Denial.
Section 904.     Certified copies.
Section 905.     Record discard.

CHAPTER 11. APPEAL OF AGENCY DETERMINATION
Section 1101.     Filing of appeal.
Section 1102.     Appeals officers.

CHAPTER 13. JUDICIAL REVIEW
Section 1301.     Commonwealth, legislative and judicial agencies.
Section 1302.     Local agencies.
Section 1303.     Notice and records.
Section 1304.     Court costs and attorney fees.
Section 1305.     Penalties.
Section 1306.     Immunity.
Section 1307.     Fee limitations.
Section 1308.     Prohibition.
Section 1309.     Practice and procedure.
Section 1310.     Office of Open Records.

CHAPTER 15. STATE-RELATED INSTITUTIONS
Section 1501.     Definition.
Section 1502.     Reporting.
Section 1503.     Contents of report.
Section 1504.     Copies and posting.

CHAPTER 17. STATE CONTRACT INFORMATION
Section 1701.     Submission and retention of contracts.
Section 1702.     Public availability of contracts.

CHAPTER 31. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
Section 3101.     Applicability.
Section 3101.1.     Relation to other law or judicial actions.
Section 3101.2.     Severability.
Section 3102.     Repeals.
Section 3103.     References.
Section 3104.     Effective date.

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:

CHAPTER 1 PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS

Section 101. Short title.

This act shall be known and may be cited as the Right-to-Know Law.

Section 102. Definitions

The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Administrative proceeding." A proceeding by an agency the outcome of which is required to be based on a record or documentation prescribed by law or in which a statute or regulation is particularized in application to individuals. The term includes an appeal.

"Agency." A Commonwealth agency, a local agency, a judicial agency or a legislative agency.

"Aggregated data." A tabulation of data which relate to broad classes, groups or categories so that it is not possible to distinguish the properties of individuals within those classes, groups or categories.

"Appeals officer." As follows:

  • (1) For a Commonwealth agency or a local agency, the appeals officer designated under section 503(a).

  • (2) For a judicial agency, the individual designated under section 503(b).

  • (3) For a legislative agency, the individual designated under section 503(c).

  • (4) For the Attorney General, State Treasurer, Auditor General and local agencies in possession of criminal investigative records, the individual designated under section 503(d).

"Commonwealth agency." Any of the following:
  • (1) Any office, department, authority, board, multistate agency or commission of the executive branch; an independent agency; and a State-affiliated entity. The term includes:

    • (i) The Governor's Office.

    • (ii) The Office of Attorney General, the Department of the Auditor General and the Treasury Department.

    • (iii) An organization established by the Constitution of Pennsylvania, a statute or an executive order which performs or is intended to perform an essential governmental function.

  • (2) The term does not include a judicial or legislative agency.

"Confidential proprietary information." Commercial or financial information received by an agency:
  • (1) which is privileged or confidential; and

  • (2) the disclosure of which would cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the person that submitted the information.

"Financial record." Any of the following:
  • (1) Any account, voucher or contract dealing with:

    • (i) the receipt or disbursement of funds by an agency; or

    • (ii) an agency's acquisition, use or disposal of services, supplies, materials, equipment or property.

  • (2) The salary or other payments or expenses paid to an officer or employee of an agency, including the name and title of the officer or employee.

  • (3) A financial audit report. The term does not include work papers underlying an audit.

"Homeland security." Governmental actions designed to prevent, detect, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism, major disasters and other emergencies, whether natural or manmade. The term includes activities relating to the following:
  • (1) emergency preparedness and response, including preparedness and response activities by volunteer medical, police, emergency management, hazardous materials and fire personnel;
  • (2) intelligence activities;
  • (3) critical infrastructure protection;
  • (4) border security;
  • (5) ground, aviation and maritime transportation security;
  • (6) biodefense;
  • (7) detection of nuclear and radiological materials; and
  • (8) research on next-generation securities technologies.

"Independent agency." Any board, commission or other agency or officer of the Commonwealth, that is not subject to the policy supervision and control of the Governor. The term does not include a legislative or judicial agency.

"Judicial agency." A court of the Commonwealth or any other entity or office of the unified judicial system.

"Legislative agency." Any of the following:
  • (1) The Senate.
  • (2) The House of Representatives.
  • (3) The Capitol Preservation Committee.
  • (4) The Center for Rural Pennsylvania.
  • (5) The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee.
  • (6) The Joint State Government Commission.
  • (7) The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.
  • (8) The Legislative Data Processing Committee.
  • (9) The Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
  • (10) The Legislative Reference Bureau.
  • (11) The Local Government Commission.
  • (12) The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.
  • (13) The Legislative Reapportionment Commission.
  • (14) The Legislative Office of Research Liaison.
  • (15) The Legislative Audit Advisory Commission.

"Legislative record." Any of the following relating to a legislative agency or a standing committee, subcommittee or conference committee of a legislative agency:
  • (1) A financial record.

  • (2) A bill or resolution that has been introduced and amendments offered thereto in committee or in legislative session, including resolutions to adopt or amend the rules of a chamber.
  • (3) Fiscal notes.

  • (4) A cosponsorship memorandum.

  • (5) The journal of a chamber.

  • (6) The minutes of, record of attendance of members at a public hearing or a public committee meeting and all recorded votes taken in a public committee meeting.

  • (7) The transcript of a public hearing when available.

  • (8) Executive nomination calendars.

  • (9) The rules of a chamber.

  • (10) A record of all recorded votes taken in a legislative session.

  • (11) Any administrative staff manuals or written policies.

  • (12) An audit report prepared pursuant to the act of June 30, 1970 (P.L.442, No.151) entitled, "An act implementing the provisions of Article VIII, section 10 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, by designating the Commonwealth officers who shall be charged with the function of auditing the financial transactions after the occurrence thereof of the Legislative and Judicial branches of the government of the Commonwealth, establishing a Legislative Audit Advisory Commission, and imposing certain powers and duties on such commission."

  • (13) Final or annual reports required by law to be submitted to the General Assembly.

  • (14) Legislative Budget and Finance Committee reports.

  • (15) Daily Legislative Session Calendars and marked calendars.

  • (16) A record communicating to an agency the official appointment of a legislative appointee.

  • (17) A record communicating to the appointing authority the resignation of a legislative appointee.

  • (18) Proposed regulations, final-form regulations and final-omitted regulations submitted to a legislative agency.

  • (19) The results of public opinion surveys, polls, focus groups, marketing research or similar efforts designed to measure public opinion funded by a legislative agency.

"Local agency." Any of the following:
  • (1) Any political subdivision, intermediate unit, charter school, cyber charter school or public trade or vocational school.

  • (2) Any local, intergovernmental, regional or municipal agency, authority, council, board, commission or similar governmental entity.

"Office of Open Records." The Office of Open Records established in section 1310.

"Personal financial information." An individual's personal credit, charge or debit card information; bank account information; bank, credit or financial statements; account or PIN numbers and other information relating to an individual's personal finances.

"Privilege." The attorney-work product doctrine, the attorney-client privilege, the doctor-patient privilege, the speech and debate privilege or other privilege recognized by a court interpreting the laws of this Commonwealth.

"Public record." A record, including a financial record, of a Commonwealth or local agency that:
  • (1) is not exempt under section 708;

  • (2) is not exempt from being disclosed under any other Federal or State law or regulation or judicial order or decree; or

  • (3) is not protected by a privilege.

"Record." Information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that documents a transaction or activity of an agency and that is created, received or retained pursuant to law or in connection with a transaction, business or activity of the agency. The term includes a document, paper, letter, map, book, tape, photograph, film or sound recording, information stored or maintained electronically and a data-processed or image- processed document.

"Requester." A person that is a legal resident of the United States and requests a record pursuant to this act. The term includes an agency.

"Response." Access to a record or an agency's written notice to a requester granting, denying or partially granting and partially denying access to a record.

"Social services." Cash assistance and other welfare benefits, medical, mental and other health care services, drug and alcohol treatment, adoption services, vocational services and training, occupational training, education services, counseling services, workers' compensation services and unemployment compensation services, foster care services, services for the elderly, services for individuals with disabilities and services for victims of crimes and domestic violence.

"State-affiliated entity." A Commonwealth authority or Commonwealth entity. The term includes the:
  • Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and any entity established thereby,
  • the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board,
  • the Pennsylvania Game Commission,
  • the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission,
  • the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency,
  • the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Board,
  • the State System of Higher Education,
  • a community college,
  • the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission,
  • the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission,
  • the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority,
  • the State Public School Building Authority,
  • the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association
  • and the Pennsylvania Educational Facilities Authority.
The term does not include a State-related institution.

"State-related institution." Includes:
  • (1) Temple University.
  • (2) The University of Pittsburgh.
  • (3) The Pennsylvania State University.
  • (4) Lincoln University.

"Terrorist act." A violent or life-threatening act that violates the criminal laws of the United States or any state and appears to be intended to:
  • (1) intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
  • (2) influence the policy of a government; or
  • (3) affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.

"Trade secret." Information, including a formula, drawing, pattern, compilation, including a customer list, program, device, method, technique or process that:
  • (1) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and

  • (2) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.

The term includes data processing software obtained by an agency under a licensing agreement prohibiting disclosure.

CHAPTER 3 REQUIREMENTS AND PROHIBITIONS

Section 301. Commonwealth agencies.

(a) Requirement. — A Commonwealth agency shall provide public records in accordance with this act.

(b) Prohibition. — A Commonwealth agency may not deny a requester access to a public record due to the intended use of the public record by the requester unless otherwise provided by law.

Section 302. Local agencies.

(a) Requirement. — A local agency shall provide public records in accordance with this act.

(b) Prohibition. — A local agency may not deny a requester access to a public record due to the intended use of the public record by the requester unless otherwise provided by law.

Section 303. Legislative agencies.

(a) Requirement. — A legislative agency shall provide legislative records in accordance with this act.

(b) Prohibition. — A legislative agency may not deny a requester access to a legislative record due to the intended use of the legislative record by the requester.

Section 304. Judicial agencies.

(a) Requirement. — A judicial agency shall provide financial records in accordance with this act or any rule or order of court providing equal or greater access to the records.
(b) Prohibition. — A judicial agency may not deny a requester access to a financial record due to the intended use of the financial record by the requester.

Section 305. Presumption.

(a) General rule. — A record in the possession of a Commonwealth agency or local agency shall be presumed to be a public record. The presumption shall not apply if:

  • (1) the record is exempt under section 708;

  • (2) the record is protected by a privilege; or

  • (3) the record is exempt from disclosure under any other Federal or State law or regulation or judicial order or decree.

(b) Legislative records and financial records. — A legislative record in the possession of a legislative agency and a financial record in the possession of a judicial agency shall be presumed to be available in accordance with this act. The presumption shall not apply if:
  • (1) the record is exempt under section 708;

  • (2) the record is protected by a privilege; or

  • (3) the record is exempt from disclosure under any other Federal or State law, regulation or judicial order or decree.

Section 306. Nature of document.

Nothing in this act shall supersede or modify the public or nonpublic nature of a record or document established in Federal or State law, regulation or judicial order or decree.

CHAPTER 5 ACCESS

Section 501. Scope of chapter.

This chapter applies to all agencies.

Section 502. Open-records officer.

(a) Establishment.

  • (1) An agency shall designate an official or employee to act as the open-records officer.

  • (2) For a legislative agency other than the Senate or the House of Representatives, the open-records officer designated by the Legislative Reference Bureau shall serve as the open-records officer. Notwithstanding paragraph (1), a political party caucus of a legislative agency may appoint an open-records officer under this section.

(b) Functions.
  • (1) The open-records officer shall receive requests submitted to the agency under this act, direct requests to other appropriate persons within the agency or to appropriate persons in another agency, track the agency's progress in responding to requests and issue interim and final responses under this act.

  • (2) Upon receiving a request for a public record, legislative record or financial record, the open-records officer shall do all of the following:

    • (i) Note the date of receipt on the written request.

    • (ii) Compute the day on which the five-day period under section 901 will expire and make a notation of that date on the written request.

    • (iii) Maintain an electronic or paper copy of a written request, including all documents submitted with the request until the request has been fulfilled. If the request is denied, the written request shall be maintained for 30 days or, if an appeal is filed, until a final determination is issued under section 1101(b) or the appeal is deemed denied.

    • (iv) Create a file for the retention of the original request, a copy of the response, a record of written communications with the requester and a copy of other communications. This subparagraph shall only apply to Commonwealth agencies.

Section 503. Appeals officer.

(a) Commonwealth agencies and local agencies. — Except as provided in subsection (d), the Office of Open Records established under section 1310 shall designate an appeals officer under section 1101(a)(2) for all:

  • (1) Commonwealth agencies; and

  • (2) local agencies.

(b) Judicial agencies. — A judicial agency shall designate an appeals officer to hear appeals under Chapter 11.

(c) Legislative agencies.
  • (1) Except as set forth in paragraph (2), the Legislative Reference Bureau shall designate an appeals officer to hear appeals under Chapter 11 for all legislative agencies.

  • (2) Each of the following shall designate an appeals officer to hear appeals under Chapter 11:

    • (i) The Senate.

    • (ii) The House of Representatives.

(d) Law enforcement records and Statewide officials.
  • (1) The Attorney General, State Treasurer and Auditor General shall each designate an appeals officer to hear appeals under Chapter 11.

  • (2) The district attorney of a county shall designate one or more appeals officers to hear appeals under Chapter 11 relating to access to criminal investigative records in possession of a local agency of that county. The appeals officer designated by the district attorney shall determine if the record requested is a criminal investigative record.

Section 504. Regulations and policies.

(a) Authority. — An agency may promulgate regulations and policies necessary for the agency to implement this act. The Office of Open Records may promulgate regulations relating to appeals involving a Commonwealth agency or local agency.

(b) Posting. — The following information shall be posted at each agency and, if the agency maintains an Internet website, on the agency's Internet website:

  • (1) Contact information for the open-records officer.
  • (2) Contact information for the Office of Open Records or other applicable appeals officer.
  • (3) A form which may be used to file a request.
  • (4) Regulations, policies and procedures of the agency relating to this act.

Section 505. Uniform form.

(a) Commonwealth and local agencies. — The Office of Open Records shall develop a uniform form which shall be accepted by all Commonwealth and local agencies in addition to any form used by the agency to file a request under this act. The uniform form shall be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and on the Office of Open Record's Internet website.
(b) Judicial agencies. — A judicial agency or the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts may develop a form to request financial records or may accept a form developed by the Office of Open Records.
(c) Legislative agencies. — A legislative agency may develop a form to request legislative records or may accept the form developed by the Office of Open Records.

Section 506. Requests.

(a) Disruptive requests.

  • (1) An agency may deny a requester access to a record if the requester has made repeated requests for that same record and the repeated requests have placed an unreasonable burden on the agency.

  • (2) A denial under this subsection shall not restrict the ability to request a different record.

(b) Disaster or potential damage.
  • (1) An agency may deny a requester access:

    • (i) when timely access is not possible due to fire, flood or other disaster; or

    • (ii) to historical, ancient or rare documents, records, archives and manuscripts when access may, in the professional judgment of the curator or custodian of records, cause physical damage or irreparable harm to the record.

  • (2) To the extent possible, the contents of a record under this subsection shall be made accessible to a requester even when the record is physically unavailable.


(c) Agency discretion. — An agency may exercise its discretion to make any otherwise exempt record accessible for inspection and copying under this chapter, if all of the following apply:
  • (1) Disclosure of the record is not prohibited under any of the following:

    • (i) Federal or State law or regulation.

    • (ii) Judicial order or decree.

  • (2) The record is not protected by a privilege.

  • (3) The agency head determines that the public interest favoring access outweighs any individual, agency or public interest that may favor restriction of access.


(d) Agency possession.
  • (1) A public record that is not in the possession of an agency but is in the possession of a party with whom the agency has contracted to perform a governmental function on behalf of the agency, and which directly relates to the governmental function and is not exempt under this act, shall be considered a public record of the agency for purposes of this act.

  • (2) Nothing in this act shall be construed to require access to any other record of the party in possession of the public record.

  • (3) A request for a public record in possession of a party other than the agency shall be submitted to the open records officer of the agency. Upon a determination that the record is subject to access under this act, the open records officer shall assess the duplication fee established under section 1307(b) and upon collection shall remit the fee to the party in possession of the record if the party duplicated the record.

Section 507. Retention of records.

Nothing in this act shall be construed to modify, rescind or supersede any record retention policy or disposition schedule of an agency established pursuant to law, regulation, policy or other directive.

CHAPTER 7 PROCEDURE

Section 701. Access.

(a) General rule. — Unless otherwise provided by law, a public record, legislative record or financial record shall be accessible for inspection and duplication in accordance with this act. A record being provided to a requester shall be provided in the medium requested if it exists in that medium; otherwise, it shall be provided in the medium in which it exists. Public records, legislative records or financial records shall be available for access during the regular business hours of an agency.

(b) Construction. — Nothing in this act shall be construed to require access to any computer either of an agency or individual employee of an agency.

Section 702. Requests.

Agencies may fulfill verbal, written or anonymous verbal or written requests for access to records under this act. If the requester wishes to pursue the relief and remedies provided for in this act, the request for access to records must be a written request.

Section 703. Written requests.

A written request for access to records may be submitted in person, by mail, by e-mail, by facsimile or, to the extent provided by agency rules, any other electronic means. A written request must be addressed to the open-records officer designated pursuant to section 502. Employees of an agency shall be directed to forward requests for records to the open-records officer. A written request should identify or describe the records sought with sufficient specificity to enable the agency to ascertain which records are being requested and shall include the name and address to which the agency should address its response. A written request need not include any explanation of the requester's reason for requesting or intended use of the records unless otherwise required by law.

Section 704. Electronic access.

(a) General rule. — In addition to the requirements of section 701, an agency may make its records available through any publicly accessible electronic means.

(b) Response.

  • (1) In addition to the requirements of section 701, an agency may respond to a request by notifying the requester that the record is available through publicly accessible electronic means or that the agency will provide access to inspect the record electronically.

  • (2) If the requester is unwilling or unable to access the record electronically, the requester may, within 30 days following receipt of the agency notification, submit a written request to the agency to have the record converted to paper. The agency shall provide access to the record in printed form within five days of the receipt of the written request for conversion to paper.

Section 705. Creation of record.

When responding to a request for access, an agency shall not be required to create a record which does not currently exist or to compile, maintain, format or organize a record in a manner in which the agency does not currently compile, maintain, format or organize the record.

Section 706. Redaction.

If an agency determines that a public record, legislative record or financial record contains information which is subject to access as well as information which is not subject to access, the agency's response shall grant access to the information which is subject to access and deny access to the information which is not subject to access. If the information which is not subject to access is an integral part of the public record, legislative record or financial record and cannot be separated, the agency shall redact from the record the information which is not subject to access, and the response shall grant access to the information which is subject to access. The agency may not deny access to the record if the information which is not subject to access is able to be redacted. Information which an agency redacts in accordance with this subsection shall be deemed a denial under Chapter 9.

Section 707. Production of certain records.

(a) General rule. — If, in response to a request, an agency produces a record that is not a public record, legislative record or financial record, the agency shall notify any third party that provided the record to the agency, the person that is the subject of the record and the requester.

(b) Requests for trade secrets. — An agency shall notify a third party of a request for a record if the third party provided the record and included a written statement signed by a representative of the third party that the record contains a trade secret or confidential proprietary information.

Notification shall be provided within five business days of receipt of the request for the record. The third party shall have five business days from receipt of notification from the agency to provide input on the release of the record. The agency shall deny the request for the record or release the record within ten business days of the provision of notice to the third party and shall notify the third party of the decision.

(c) Transcripts.

  • (1) Prior to an adjudication becoming final, binding and nonappealable, a transcript of an administrative proceeding shall be provided to a requester by the agency stenographer or a court reporter, in accordance with agency procedure or an applicable contract.

  • (2) Following an adjudication becoming final, binding and nonappealable, a transcript of an administrative proceeding shall be provided to a requester in accordance with the duplication rates established in section 1307(b).

Section 708. Exceptions for public records.

(a) Burden of proof.

  • (1) The burden of proving that a record of a Commonwealth agency or local agency is exempt from public access shall be on the Commonwealth agency or local agency receiving a request by a preponderance of the evidence.

  • (2) The burden of proving that a legislative record is exempt from public access shall be on the legislative agency receiving a request by a preponderance of the evidence.

  • (3) The burden of proving that a financial record of a judicial agency is exempt from public access shall be on the judicial agency receiving a request by a preponderance of the evidence.


(b) Exceptions. — Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d), the following are exempt from access by a requester under this act:
  • (1) A record the disclosure of which:

    • (i) would result in the loss of Federal or State funds by an agency or the Commonwealth; or

    • (ii) would be reasonably likely to result in a substantial and demonstrable risk of physical harm to or the personal security of an individual.

  • (2) A record maintained by an agency in connection with the military, homeland security, national defense, law enforcement or other public safety activity that if disclosed would be reasonably likely to jeopardize or threaten public safety or preparedness or public protection activity or a record that is designated classified by an appropriate Federal or State military authority.

  • (3) A record, the disclosure of which creates a reasonable likelihood of endangering the safety or the physical security of a building, public utility, resource, infrastructure, facility or information storage system, which may include:

    • (i) documents or data relating to computer hardware, source files, software and system networks that could jeopardize computer security by exposing a vulnerability in preventing, protecting against, mitigating or responding to a terrorist act;

    • (ii) lists of infrastructure, resources and significant special events, including those defined by the Federal Government in the National Infrastructure Protections, which are deemed critical due to their nature and which result from risk analysis; threat assessments; consequences assessments; antiterrorism protective measures and plans; counterterrorism measures and plans; and security and response needs assessments; and

    • (iii) building plans or infrastructure records that expose or create vulnerability through disclosure of the location, configuration or security of critical systems, including public utility systems, structural elements, technology, communication, electrical, fire suppression, ventilation, water, wastewater, sewage and gas systems.

  • (4) A record regarding computer hardware, software and networks, including administrative or technical records, which, if disclosed, would be reasonably likely to jeopardize computer security.

  • (5) A record of an individual's medical, psychiatric or psychological history or disability status, including an evaluation, consultation, prescription, diagnosis or treatment; results of tests, including drug tests; enrollment in a health care program or program designed for participation by persons with disabilities, including vocation rehabilitation, workers' compensation and unemployment compensation; or related information that would disclose individually identifiable health information.

  • (6)
    • (i) The following personal identification information:

      • (A) A record containing all or part of a person's Social Security number; driver's license number; personal financial information; home, cellular or personal telephone numbers; personal e- mail addresses; employee number or other confidential personal identification number.

      • (B) A spouse's name; marital status, beneficiary or dependent information.
        (C) The home address of a law enforcement officer or judge.

    • (ii) Nothing in this paragraph shall preclude the release of the name, position, salary, actual compensation or other payments or expenses, employment contract, employment-related contract or agreement and length of service of a public official or an agency employee.

    • (iii) An agency may redact the name or other identifying information relating to an individual performing an undercover or covert law enforcement activity from a record.

  • (7) The following records relating to an agency employee:

    • (i) A letter of reference or recommendation pertaining to the character or qualifications of an identifiable individual, unless it was prepared in relation to the appointment of an individual to fill a vacancy in an elected office or an appointed office requiring Senate confirmation.

    • (ii) A performance rating or review.

    • (iii) The result of a civil service or similar test administered by a Commonwealth agency, legislative agency or judicial agency. The result of a civil service or similar test administered by a local agency shall not be disclosed if restricted by a collective bargaining agreement. Only test scores of individuals who obtained a passing score on a test administered by a local agency may be disclosed.

    • (iv) The employment application of an individual who is not hired by the agency.

    • (v) Workplace support services program information.

    • (vi) Written criticisms of an employee.

    • (vii) Grievance material, including documents related to discrimination or sexual harassment.

    • (viii) Information regarding discipline, demotion or discharge contained in a personnel file. This subparagraph shall not apply to the final action of an agency that results in demotion or discharge.

    • (ix) An academic transcript.

  • (8)
    • (i) A record pertaining to strategy or negotiations relating to labor relations or collective bargaining and related arbitration proceedings. This subparagraph shall not apply to a final or executed contract or agreement between the parties in a collective bargaining procedure.

    • (ii) In the case of the arbitration of a dispute or grievance under a collective bargaining agreement, an exhibit entered into evidence at an arbitration proceeding, a transcript of the arbitration or the opinion. This subparagraph shall not apply to the final award or order of the arbitrator in a dispute or grievance procedure.

  • (9) The draft of a bill, resolution, regulation, statement of policy, management directive, ordinance or amendment thereto prepared by or for an agency.

  • (10)
    • (i) A record that reflects:

      • (A) The internal, predecisional deliberations of an agency, its members, employees or officials or predecisional deliberations between agency members, employees or officials and members, employees or officials of another agency, including predecisional deliberations relating to a budget recommendation, legislative proposal, legislative amendment, contemplated or proposed policy or course of action or any research, memos or other documents used in the predecisional deliberations.

      • (B) The strategy to be used to develop or achieve the successful adoption of a budget, legislative proposal or regulation.

    • (ii) Subparagraph (i)(A) shall apply to agencies subject to 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings) in a manner consistent with 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7. A record which is not otherwise exempt from access under this act and which is presented to a quorum for deliberation in accordance with 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 shall be a public record.

    • (iii) This paragraph shall not apply to a written or Internet application or other document that has been submitted to request Commonwealth funds.

    • (iv) This paragraph shall not apply to the results of public opinion surveys, polls, focus groups, marketing research or similar effort designed to measure public opinion.

  • (11) A record that constitutes or reveals a trade secret or confidential proprietary information.

  • (12) Notes and working papers prepared by or for a public official or agency employee used solely for that official's or employee's own personal use, including telephone message slips, routing slips and other materials that do not have an official purpose.

  • (13) Records that would disclose the identity of an individual who lawfully makes a donation to an agency unless the donation is intended for or restricted to providing remuneration or personal tangible benefit to a named public official or employee of the agency, including lists of potential donors compiled by an agency to pursue donations, donor profile information or personal identifying information relating to a donor.

  • (14) Unpublished lecture notes, unpublished manuscripts, unpublished articles, creative works in progress, research- related material and scholarly correspondence of a community college or an institution of the State System of Higher Education or a faculty member, staff employee, guest speaker or student thereof.

  • (15)
    • (i) Academic transcripts

    • (ii) Examinations, examination questions, scoring keys or answers to examinations. This subparagraph shall include licensing and other examinations relating to the qualifications of an individual and to examinations given in primary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education.

  • (16) A record of an agency relating to or resulting in a criminal investigation, including:

    • (i) Complaints of potential criminal conduct other than a private criminal complaint.

    • (ii) Investigative materials, notes, correspondence, videos and reports.

    • (iii) A record that includes the identity of a confidential source or the identity of a suspect who has not been charged with an offense to whom confidentiality has been promised.

    • (iv) A record that includes information made confidential by law or court order.

    • (v) Victim information, including any information that would jeopardize the safety of the victim.

    • (vi) A record that, if disclosed, would do any of the following:

      • (A) Reveal the institution, progress or result of a criminal investigation, except the filing of criminal charges.

      • (B) Deprive a person of the right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication.

      • (C) Impair the ability to locate a defendant or codefendant.

      • (D) Hinder an agency's ability to secure an arrest, prosecution or conviction.

      • (E) Endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.

  • This paragraph shall not apply to information contained in a police blotter as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 9102 (relating to definitions) and utilized or maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police, local, campus, transit or port authority police department or other law enforcement agency or in a traffic report except as provided under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3754(b) (relating to accident prevention investigations).

  • (17) A record of an agency relating to a noncriminal investigation, including:

    • (i) Complaints submitted to an agency.

    • (ii) Investigative materials, notes, correspondence and reports.
      (iii) A record that includes the identity of a confidential source, including individuals subject to the act of December 12, 1986 (P.L.1559, No.169), known as the Whistleblower Law.
      (iv) A record that includes information made confidential by law.
      (v) Work papers underlying an audit.
      (vi) A record that, if disclosed, would do any of the following:
      • (A) Reveal the institution, progress or result of an agency investigation, except the imposition of a fine or civil penalty, the suspension, modification or revocation of a license, permit, registration, certification or similar authorization issued by an agency or an executed settlement agreement unless the agreement is determined to be confidential by a court.

      • (B) Deprive a person of the right to an impartial adjudication.
        (C) Constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy.
        (D) Hinder an agency's ability to secure an administrative or civil sanction.
        (E) Endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.

  • (18)
    • (i) Records or parts of records, except time response logs, pertaining to audio recordings, telephone or radio transmissions received by emergency dispatch personnel, including 911 recordings.

    • (ii) This paragraph shall not apply to a 911 recording, or a transcript of a 911 recording, if the agency or a court determines that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the interest in nondisclosure.

  • (19) DNA and RNA records.

  • (20) An autopsy record of a coroner or medical examiner and any audiotape of a postmortem examination or autopsy, or a copy, reproduction or facsimile of an autopsy report, a photograph, negative or print, including a photograph or videotape of the body or any portion of the body of a deceased person at the scene of death or in the course of a postmortem examination or autopsy taken or made by or caused to be taken or made by the coroner or medical examiner. This exception shall not limit the reporting of the name of the deceased individual and the cause and manner of death.

  • (21)
    • (i) Draft minutes of any meeting of an agency until the next regularly scheduled meeting of the agency.

    • (ii) Minutes of an executive session and any record of discussions held in executive session.

  • (22)
    • (i) The contents of real estate appraisals, engineering or feasibility estimates, environmental reviews, audits or evaluations made for or by an agency relative to the following:

      • (A) The leasing, acquiring or disposing of real property or an interest in real property.
      • (B) The purchase of public supplies or equipment included in the real estate transaction.
      • (C) Construction projects.

    • (ii) This paragraph shall not apply once the decision is made to proceed with the lease, acquisition or disposal of real property or an interest in real property or the purchase of public supply or construction project.

  • (23) Library and archive circulation and order records of an identifiable individual or groups of individuals.

  • (24) Library archived and museum materials, or valuable or rare book collections or documents contributed by gift, grant, bequest or devise, to the extent of any limitations imposed by the donor as a condition of the contribution.

  • (25) A record identifying the location of an archeological site or an endangered or threatened plant or animal species if not already known to the general public.

  • (26) A proposal pertaining to agency procurement or disposal of supplies, services or construction prior to the award of the contract or prior to the opening and rejection of all bids; financial information of a bidder or offeror requested in an invitation for bid or request for proposals to demonstrate the bidder's or offeror's economic capability; or the identity of members, notes and other records of agency proposal evaluation committees established under 62 Pa.C.S. § 513 (relating to competitive sealed proposals).

  • (27) A record or information relating to a communication between an agency and its insurance carrier, administrative service organization or risk management office. This paragraph shall not apply to a contract with an insurance carrier, administrative service organization or risk management office or to financial records relating to the provision of insurance.

  • (28) A record or information:

    • (i) identifying an individual who applies for or receives social services; or

    • (ii) relating to the following:

      • (A) the type of social services received by an individual;

      • (B) an individual's application to receive social services, including a record or information related to an agency decision to grant, deny, reduce or restrict benefits, including a quasi-judicial decision of the agency and the identity of a caregiver or others who provide services to the individual; or
        (C) eligibility to receive social services, including the individual's income, assets, physical or mental health, age, disability, family circumstances or record of abuse.

  • (29) Correspondence between a person and a member of the General Assembly and records accompanying the correspondence which would identify a person that requests assistance or constituent services. This paragraph shall not apply to correspondence between a member of the General Assembly and a principal or lobbyist under 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 13A (relating to lobbyist disclosure).

  • (30) A record identifying the name, home address or date of birth of a child 17 years of age or younger.

(c) Financial records. — The exceptions set forth in subsection (b) shall not apply to financial records, except that an agency may redact that portion of a financial record protected under subsection (b)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (16) or (17). An agency shall not disclose the identity of an individual performing an undercover or covert law enforcement activity.

(d) Aggregated data. — The exceptions set forth in subsection (b) shall not apply to aggregated data maintained or received by an agency, except for data protected under subsection (b)(1), (2), (3), (4) or (5).

(e) Construction. — In determining whether a record is exempt from access under this section, an agency shall consider and apply each exemption separately.

CHAPTER 9 AGENCY RESPONSE

Section 901. General rule.

Upon receipt of a written request for access to a record, an agency shall make a good faith effort to determine if the record requested is a public record, legislative record or financial record and whether the agency has possession, custody or control of the identified record, and to respond as promptly as possible under the circumstances existing at the time of the request. All applicable fees shall be paid in order to receive access to the record requested. The time for response shall not exceed five business days from the date the written request is received by the open-records officer for an agency. If the agency fails to send the response within five business days of receipt of the written request for access, the written request for access shall be deemed denied.

Section 902. Extension of time.

(a) Determination. — Upon receipt of a written request for access, the open-records officer for an agency shall determine if one of the following applies:

  • (1) the request for access requires redaction of a record in accordance with section 706;

  • (2) the request for access requires the retrieval of a record stored in a remote location;

  • (3) a timely response to the request for access cannot be accomplished due to bona fide and specified staffing limitations;

  • (4) a legal review is necessary to determine whether the record is a record subject to access under this act;

  • (5) the requester has not complied with the agency's policies regarding access to records;

  • (6) the requester refuses to pay applicable fees authorized by this act; or

  • (7) the extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.

(b) Notice.
  • (1) Upon a determination that one of the factors listed in subsection (a) applies, the open-records officer shall send written notice to the requester within five business days of receipt of the request for access under subsection (a).

  • (2) The notice shall include a statement notifying the requester that the request for access is being reviewed, the reason for the review, a reasonable date that a response is expected to be provided and an estimate of applicable fees owed when the record becomes available. If the date that a response is expected to be provided is in excess of 30 days, following the five business days allowed for in section 901, the request for access shall be deemed denied unless the requester has agreed in writing to an extension to the date specified in the notice.

  • (3) If the requester agrees to the extension, the request shall be deemed denied on the day following the date specified in the notice if the agency has not provided a response by that date.

Section 903. Denial.

If an agency's response is a denial of a written request for access, whether in whole or in part, the denial shall be issued in writing and shall include:

  • (1) A description of the record requested.

  • (2) The specific reasons for the denial, including a citation of supporting legal authority.

  • (3) The typed or printed name, title, business address, business telephone number and signature of the open-records officer on whose authority the denial is issued.

  • (4) Date of the response.

  • (5) The procedure to appeal the denial of access under this act.

Section 904. Certified copies.

If an agency's response grants a request for access, the agency shall, upon request, provide the requester with a certified copy of the record if the requester pays the applicable fees under section 1307.

Section 905. Record discard.

If an agency response to a requester states that copies of the requested records are available for delivery at the office of an agency and the requester fails to retrieve the records within 60 days of the agency's response, the agency may dispose of any copies which have not been retrieved and retain any fees paid to date.

CHAPTER 11 APPEAL OF AGENCY DETERMINATION

Section 1101. Filing of appeal.

(a) Authorization.

  • (1) If a written request for access to a record is denied or deemed denied, the requester may file an appeal with the Office of Open Records or judicial, legislative or other appeals officer designated under section 503(d) within 15 business days of the mailing date of the agency's response or within 15 business days of a deemed denial. The appeal shall state the grounds upon which the requester asserts that the record is a public record, legislative record or financial record and shall address any grounds stated by the agency for delaying or denying the request.

  • (2) Except as provided in section 503(d), in the case of an appeal of a decision by a Commonwealth agency or local agency, the Office of Open Records shall assign an appeals officer to review the denial.

(b) Determination.
  • (1) Unless the requester agrees otherwise, the appeals officer shall make a final determination which shall be mailed to the requester and the agency within 30 days of receipt of the appeal filed under subsection (a).

  • (2) If the appeals officer fails to issue a final determination within 30 days, the appeal is deemed denied.

  • (3) Prior to issuing a final determination, a hearing may be conducted. The determination by the appeals officer shall be a final order. The appeals officer shall provide a written explanation of the reason for the decision to the requester and the agency.

(c) Direct interest.
  • (1) A person other than the agency or requester with a direct interest in the record subject to an appeal under this section may, within 15 days following receipt of actual knowledge of the appeal but no later than the date the appeals officer issues an order, file a written request to provide information or to appear before the appeals officer or to file information in support of the requester's or agency's position.

  • (2) The appeals officer may grant a request under paragraph (1) if:

    • (i) no hearing has been held;

    • (ii) the appeals officer has not yet issued its order; and
      (iii) the appeals officer believes the information will be probative.

  • (3) Copies of the written request shall be sent to the agency and the requester.

Section 1102. Appeals officers.

(a) Duties. — An appeals officer designated under section 503 shall do all of the following:

  • (1) Set a schedule for the requester and the open- records officer to submit documents in support of their positions.

  • (2) Review all information filed relating to the request. The appeals officer may hold a hearing. A decision to hold or not to hold a hearing is not appealable. The appeals officer may admit into evidence testimony, evidence and documents that the appeals officer believes to be reasonably probative and relevant to an issue in dispute. The appeals officer may limit the nature and extent of evidence found to be cumulative.

  • (3) Consult with agency counsel as appropriate.

  • (4) Issue a final determination on behalf of the Office of Open Records or other agency.

(b) Procedures. — The Office of Open Records, a judicial agency, a legislative agency, the Attorney General, Auditor General, State Treasurer or district attorney may adopt procedures relating to appeals under this chapter.
  • (1) If an appeal is resolved without a hearing, 1 Pa. Code Pt. II (relating to general rules of administrative practice and procedure) does not apply except to the extent that the agency has adopted these chapters in its regulations or rules under this subsection.

  • (2) If a hearing is held, 1 Pa. Code Pt. II shall apply unless the agency has adopted regulations, policies or procedures to the contrary under this subsection.

  • (3) In the absence of a regulation, policy or procedure governing appeals under this chapter, the appeals officer shall rule on procedural matters on the basis of justice, fairness and the expeditious resolution of the dispute.


CHAPTER 13 JUDICIAL REVIEW

Section 1301. Commonwealth agencies, legislative agencies and judicial agencies.

(a) General rule. — Within 30 days of the mailing date of the final determination of the appeals officer relating to a decision of a Commonwealth agency, a legislative agency or a judicial agency issued under section 1101(b) or the date a request for access is deemed denied, a requester or the agency may file a petition for review or other document as might be required by rule of court with the Commonwealth Court. The decision of the court shall contain findings of fact and conclusions of law based upon the evidence as a whole. The decision shall clearly and concisely explain the rationale for the decision.

(b) Stay. — A petition for review under this section shall stay the release of documents until a decision under subsection (a) is issued.

Section 1302. Local agencies.

(a) General rule. — Within 30 days of the mailing date of the final determination of the appeals officer relating to a decision of a local agency issued under section 1101(b) or of the date a request for access is deemed denied, a requester or local agency may file a petition for review or other document as required by rule of court with the court of common pleas for the county where the local agency is located. The decision of the court shall contain findings of fact and conclusions of law based upon the evidence as a whole. The decision shall clearly and concisely explain the rationale for the decision.

(b) Stay. — A petition for review under this section shall stay the release of documents until a decision under subsection (a) is issued.

Section 1303. Notice and records.

(a) Notice. — An agency, the requester and the Office of Open Records or designated appeals officer shall be served notice of actions commenced in accordance with section 1301 or 1302 and shall have an opportunity to respond in accordance with applicable court rules.

(b) Record on appeal. — The record before a court shall consist of the request, the agency's response, the appeal filed under section 1101, the hearing transcript, if any, and the final written determination of the appeals officer.

Section 1304. Court costs and attorney fees.

(a) Reversal of agency determination. — If a court reverses the final determination of the appeals officer or grants access to a record after a request for access was deemed denied, the court may award reasonable attorney fees and costs of litigation or an appropriate portion thereof to a requester if the court finds either of the following:

  • (1) the agency receiving the original request willfully or with wanton disregard deprived the requester of access to a public record subject to access or otherwise acted in bad faith under the provisions of this act; or

  • (2) the exemptions, exclusions or defenses asserted by the agency in its final determination were not based on a reasonable interpretation of law.


(b) Sanctions for frivolous requests or appeals. — The court may award reasonable attorney fees and costs of litigation or an appropriate portion thereof to an agency or the requester if the court finds that the legal challenge under this chapter was frivolous.

(c) Other sanctions. — Nothing in this act shall prohibit a court from imposing penalties and costs in accordance with applicable rules of court.

Section 1305. Civil penalty.

(a) Denial of access. — A court may impose a civil penalty of not more than $1,500 if an agency denied access to a public record in bad faith.

(b) Failure to comply with court order. — An agency or public official who does not promptly comply with a court order under this act is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $500 per day until the public records are provided.

Section 1306. Immunity.

(a) General rule. — Except as provided in sections 1304 and 1305 and other statutes governing the release of records, no agency, public official or public employee shall be liable for civil penalties resulting from compliance or failure to comply with this act.

(b) Schedules. — No agency, public official or public employee shall be liable for civil or criminal damages or penalties under this act for complying with any written public record retention and disposition schedule.

Section 1307. Fee limitations.

(a) Postage. — Fees for postage may not exceed the actual cost of mailing.

(b) Duplication.

  • (1) Fees for duplication by photocopying, printing from electronic media or microfilm, copying onto electronic media, transmission by facsimile or other electronic means and other means of duplication shall be established:

    • (i) by the Office of Open Records, for Commonwealth agencies and local agencies;

    • (ii) by each judicial agency; and

    • (iii) by each legislative agency.

  • (2) The fees must be reasonable and based on prevailing fees for comparable duplication services provided by local business entities.

  • (3) Fees for local agencies may reflect regional price differences.

  • (4) The following apply to complex and extensive data sets, including geographic information systems or integrated property assessment lists.

    • (i) Fees for copying may be based on the reasonable market value of the same or closely related data sets.

    • (ii) Subparagraph (i) shall not apply to:

      • (A) a request by an individual employed by or connected with a newspaper or magazine of general circulation, weekly newspaper publication, press association or radio or television station, for the purpose of obtaining information for publication or broadcast; or

      • (B) a request by a nonprofit organization for the conduct of educational research.

    • (iii) Information obtained under subparagraph (ii) shall be subject to paragraphs (1), (2) and (3).


(c) Certification. — An agency may impose reasonable fees for official certification of copies if the certification is at the behest of the requester and for the purpose of legally verifying the public record.

(d) Conversion to paper. — If a record is only maintained electronically or in other nonpaper media, duplication fees shall be limited to the lesser of the fee for duplication on paper or the fee for duplication in the original media as provided by subsection (b) unless the requester specifically requests for the record to be duplicated in the more expensive medium.

(e) Enhanced electronic access. — If an agency offers enhanced electronic access to records in addition to making the records accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester as required by this act, the agency may establish user fees specifically for the provision of the enhanced electronic access, but only to the extent that the enhanced electronic access is in addition to making the records accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester as required by this act. The user fees for enhanced electronic access may be a flat rate, a subscription fee for a period of time, a per-transaction fee, a fee based on the cumulative time of system access or any other reasonable method and any combination thereof. The user fees for enhanced electronic access must be reasonable, must be approved by the Office of Open Records and may not be established with the intent or effect of excluding persons from access to records or duplicates thereof or of creating profit for the agency.

(f) Waiver of fees. — An agency may waive the fees for duplication of a record, including, but not limited to, when:
  • (1) the requester duplicates the record; or
  • (2) the agency deems it is in the public interest to do so.


(g) Limitations. — Except as otherwise provided by statute, no other fees may be imposed unless the agency necessarily incurs costs for complying with the request, and such fees must be reasonable. No fee may be imposed for an agency's review of a record to determine whether the record is a public record, legislative record or financial record subject to access in accordance with this act.

(h) Prepayment. — Prior to granting a request for access in accordance with this act, an agency may require a requester to prepay an estimate of the fees authorized under this section if the fees required to fulfill the request are expected to exceed $100.

Section 1308. Prohibition.

A policy or regulation adopted under this act may not include any of the following:

  • (1) A limitation on the number of records which may be requested or made available for inspection or duplication.

  • (2) A requirement to disclose the purpose or motive in requesting access to records.


Section 1309. Practice and procedure.

The provisions of 2 Pa.C.S. (relating to administrative law and procedure) shall not apply to this act unless specifically adopted by regulation or policy.

Section 1310. Office of Open Records.

(a) Establishment. — There is established in the Department of Community and Economic Development an Office of Open Records. The office shall do all of the following:

  • (1) Provide information relating to the implementation and enforcement of this act.

  • (2) Issue advisory opinions to agencies and requesters.

  • (3) Provide annual training courses to agencies, public officials and public employees on this act and 65 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7 (relating to open meetings).
  • (4) Provide annual, regional training courses to local agencies, public officials and public employees.

  • (5) Assign appeals officers to review appeals of decisions by Commonwealth agencies or local agencies, except as provided in section 503(d), filed under section 1101 and issue orders and opinions. The office shall employ or contract with attorneys to serve as appeals officers to review appeals and, if necessary, to hold hearings on a regional basis under this act. Each appeals officer must comply with all of the following:

    • (i) Complete a training course provided by the Office of Open Records prior to acting as an appeals officer.

    • (ii) If a hearing is necessary, hold hearings regionally as necessary to ensure access to the remedies provided by this act.

    • (iii) Comply with the procedures under section 1102(b).

  • (6) Establish an informal mediation program to resolve disputes under this act.

  • (7) Establish an Internet website with information relating to this act, including information on fees, advisory opinions and decisions and the name and address of all open records officers in this Commonwealth.

  • (8) Conduct a biannual review of fees charged under this act.

  • (9) Annually report on its activities and findings to the Governor and the General Assembly. The report shall be posted and maintained on the Internet website established under paragraph (7).


(b) Executive director. — Within 90 days of the effective date of this section, the Governor shall appoint an executive director of the office who shall serve for a term of six years. Compensation shall be set by the Executive Board established under section 204 of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929. The executive director may serve no more than two terms.

(c) Limitation. — The executive director shall not seek election nor accept appointment to any political office during his tenure as executive director and for one year thereafter.

(d) Staffing. — The executive director shall appoint attorneys to act as appeals officers and additional clerical, technical and professional staff as may be appropriate and may contract for additional services as necessary for the performance of the executive director's duties. The compensation of attorneys and other staff shall be set by the Executive Board. The appointment of attorneys shall not be subject to the act of October 15, 1980 (P.L.950, No.164), known as the Commonwealth Attorneys Act.

(e) Duties. — The executive director shall ensure that the duties of the Office of Open Records are carried out and shall monitor cases appealed to the Office of Open Records.

(f) Appropriation. — The appropriation for the office shall be in a separate line item and shall be under the jurisdiction of the executive director.

CHAPTER 15 STATE-RELATED INSTITUTIONS

Section 1501. Definition.

As used in this chapter, "State-related institution" means any of the following:

  • (1) Temple University.
  • (2) The University of Pittsburgh.
  • (3) The Pennsylvania State University.
  • (4) Lincoln University.

Section 1502. Reporting.

No later than May 30 of each year, a State-related institution shall file with the Governor's Office, the General Assembly, the Auditor General and the State Library the information set forth in section 1503.

Section 1503. Contents of report.

The report required under section 1502 shall include the following:

  • (1) Except as provided in paragraph (4), all information required by Form 990 or an equivalent form, of the United States Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, entitled the Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, regardless of whether the State-related institution is required to file the form by the Federal Government.

  • (2) The salaries of all officers and directors of the State-related institution.

  • (3) The highest 25 salaries paid to employees of the institution that are not included under paragraph (2).

  • (4) The report shall not include information relating to individual donors.

Section 1504. Copies and posting.

A State-related institution shall maintain, for at least seven years, a copy of the report in the institution's library and shall provide free access to the report on the institution's Internet website.

CHAPTER 17 STATE CONTRACT INFORMATION

Section 1701. Submission and retention of contracts.

(a) General rule. — Whenever any Commonwealth agency, legislative agency or judicial agency shall enter into any contract involving any property, real, personal or mixed of any kind or description or any contract for personal services where the consideration involved in the contract is $5,000 or more, a copy of the contract shall be filed with the Treasury Department within ten days after the contract is fully executed on behalf of the Commonwealth agency, legislative agency or judicial agency or otherwise becomes an obligation of the Commonwealth agency, legislative agency or judicial agency. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to contracts for services protected by a privilege. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to a purchase order evidencing fulfillment of an existing contract but shall apply to a purchase order evidencing new obligations. The following shall apply:

  • (1) Each Commonwealth agency, legislative agency and judicial agency shall submit contracts in a form and structure mutually agreed upon by the Commonwealth agency, legislative agency or judicial agency and the State Treasurer.

  • (2) The Treasury Department may require each Commonwealth agency, legislative agency or judicial agency to provide a summary with each contract, which shall include the following:

    • (i) Date of execution.

    • (ii) Amount of the contract.

    • (iii) Beginning date of the contract.

    • (iv) End date of the contract, if applicable.

    • (v) Name of the agency entering into the contract.

    • (vi) The name of all parties executing the contract.

    • (vii) Subject matter of the contract.

Each agency shall create and maintain the data under this paragraph in an ASCII-delimited text file, spreadsheet file or other file provided by Treasury Department regulation.

(b) Retention. — Every contract filed pursuant to subsection (a) shall remain on file with the Treasury Department for a period of not less than four years after the end date of the contract.

(c) Accuracy. — Each Commonwealth agency, legislative agency and judicial agency is responsible for verifying the accuracy and completeness of the information that it submits to the State Treasurer. The contract provided to the Treasury Department pursuant to this chapter shall be redacted in accordance with applicable provisions of this act by the agency filing the contract to the Treasury Department.

(d) Applicability. — The provisions of this act shall not apply to copies of contracts submitted to the Treasury Department, the Office of Auditor General or other agency for purposes of audits and warrants for disbursements under section 307, 401, 402 or 403 of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code.

Section 1702. Public availability of contracts.

(a) General rule. — The Treasury Department shall make each contract filed pursuant to section 1701 available for public inspection either by posting a copy of the contract on the Treasury Department's publicly accessible Internet website or by posting a contract summary on the department's publicly accessible Internet website.

(b) Posting. — The Treasury Department shall post the information received pursuant to this chapter in a manner that allows the public to search contracts or contract summaries by the categories enumerated in section 1701(a)(2).

(c) Request to review or receive copy of contract. — The Treasury Department shall maintain a page on its publicly accessible Internet website that includes instructions on how to review a contract on the Internet website.

(d) Paper copy. — A paper copy of a contract may be requested from the agency that executed the contract in accordance with this act.

CHAPTER 31 MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Section 3101. Applicability.

This Act shall apply to requests for information made after December 31, 2008.

Section 3101.1. Relation to other laws.

If the provisions of this act regarding access to records conflict with any other federal or state law, the provisions of this act shall not apply.

Section 3101.2. Severability.

All provisions of this act are severable.

Section 3102. Repeals.

Repeals are as follows:

  • (1) The General Assembly declares as follows:

    • (i) The repeal under paragraph (2)(i) is necessary to effectuate Chapter 17.

    • (ii) The repeals under paragraph (2)(ii) and (iii) are necessary to effectuate this act.

  • (2) The following acts and parts of acts are repealed:

    • (i) Section 1104 of the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929.

    • (ii) The act of June 21, 1957 (P.L.390, No.212), referred to as the Right-to-Know Law.

    • (iii) 62 Pa.C.S. § 106.

Section 3103. References.

Notwithstanding 1 PA.C.S. § 1937(B), a reference in a statute or regulation to the act of June 21, 1957 (P.L.390, No.212), referred to as the Right-to-Know Law, shall be deemed a reference to this act.

Section 3104. Effective date.

This act shall take effect as follows:

  • (1) The following provisions shall take effect immediately:

    • (i) Sections 101, 102 and 1310.

    • (ii) This section.

    (2) Chapters 15 and 17 and sections 3102(1)(I) and 3102(2)(I) shall take effect July 1, 2008.
    (3) The remainder of this act shall take effect January 1, 2009.

APPROVED The 14th day of Februrary, A.D. 2008
Edward G. Rendell, Governor