Draft Fee Structure Update – Seeking Public Comment

Section 1307 of the Right-To-Know Law requires the Office of Open Records to establish a fee structure for commonwealth agencies and local agencies. Section 1310 of the RTKL requires the OOR to review that fee structure every other year.

The OOR has produced a draft update to the Official Fee Structure (PDF) and is accepting public comment on this draft update through August 19, 2016.

To comment, please email FeeReviewOOR@pa.gov or mail your comments to:

Office of Open Records
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, 4th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225

Comments will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 19, 2016.

The OOR will review all comments received and will issue a final update to the Official Fee Structure no later than August 31, 2016.

OOR Draft Update to Official Fee Structure 2016-08-01 (PDF)

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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Commonwealth Court Weighs in on Large RTKL Requests

Open records_logo stackedThis week, Commonwealth Court issued a ruling in Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (SSHE) v. Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF).

One of the issues was whether or not the original Right-to-Know Law request submitted by APSCUF to SSHE was specific enough under Section 703 of the RTKL. On that issue, the court upheld the OOR’s finding that the request was specific.

The court then discussed SSHE’s position that, because the request was for such a large volume of records, it couldn’t have responded within the time period established by the RTKL. (SSHE “contends that it was incapable of reasonably discerning whether any exemptions applied to this matter because it neither had the time nor resources to fully review the sizeable volume of records produced by Requesters’ requests in the time-period it was given to do so.”)

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Appeals Filed in the First Half of 2016

Open records_logo stackedA total of 1,146 appeals were filed with the Office of Open Records in the first half of 2016. Here’s the monthly breakdown:

  • January – 122
  • February – 317
  • March – 184
  • April – 141
  • May – 198
  • June – 184

That’s the second-busiest first half of the year ever at the OOR. Here’s a comparison of appeals filed in the first six months of each year the OOR has existed:

  • 2016 (Jan. to June) – 1,146
  • 2015 (Jan. to June) – 1,181
  • 2014 (Jan. to June) – 1,017
  • 2013 (Jan. to June) – 1,129
  • 2012 (Jan. to June) – 1,064
  • 2011 (Jan. to June) – 908
  • 2010 (Jan. to June) – 601
  • 2009 (Jan. to June) – 560

Senate Bill 413 – OOR Testimony

Open records_logo stackedSenate Bill 413, introduced by Senator Rich Alloway, would extensively revise provisions related to the practice and procedure of Commonwealth agencies, establish the Office of Administrative Hearings, and extensively revise provisions on judicial review of Commonwealth agency action.

The Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Senator Mike Folmer, held a public hearing this week on SB 413.

I provided this written testimony to the committee, emphasizing the unique nature of the Office of Open Records — that the vast majority of our cases involve people who are not represented by an attorney. As established in the Right-to-Know Law, the OOR’s appeal process was always intended to be simple, inexpensive, and relatively quick.

Senate Bill 413 – Written Testimony

Presentation to Criminal Justice Advisory Committee

Earlier today, I was pleased to speak to the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, a committee under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, in Harrisburg.

The topic was video records such as bodycams and dashcams, how they’re currently handled under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law, pending legislation on the topic, and other related issues.

My thanks to the Chairman, Representative Mike Vereb, for inviting me to speak.

Here’s the presentation I used:

Criminal Justice Advisory Committee Presentation (PDF)
Criminal Justice Advisory Committee Presentation (PPTX)