New Searchable AORO Database

Last week, the Office of Open Records (“OOR”) launched a searchable online database of Agency Open Records Officer (“AORO”) contact information for every registered agency in the Commonwealth.

The AORO database allows the public to contact the correct AORO to request agency records and ensures that the OOR can contact AOROs in the event an appeal is filed with the OOR.

You can find the database here: http://www.openrecords.pa.gov/RTKL/AOROSearch.cfm

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First-Ever Survey of AOROs

Open records_logo stackedThe vast majority of government agencies in Pennsylvania — 87.4% — received 1 or fewer Right-to-Know (RTK) requests per week in 2016.

Similarly, 72.8% of agencies spent 1 hour or less per week (and 91.8% spent 5 hours or less) responding to RTK requests in 2016.

Those are some of the highlights from the first-ever statewide survey of Agency Open Records Officers (AOROs), the people responsible for responding to requests filed under Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law (RTKL). The survey was conducted by the Office of Open Records’ (OOR) in February 2017.

Nearly 1,300 AOROs responded, including Commonwealth agencies and local agencies of all types (i.e., municipalities, school districts, counties, police departments, charter schools, and more). We worked with numerous organizations and the Governor’s office to get as many responses as possible.

The OOR has always had good data on appeals filed under the RTKL (because the vast majority of appeals are filed with the OOR), but this survey was the first large-scale attempt to collect good data about the requests received by agencies.

(As a result of House Resolution 50, the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee has conducted a second statewide survey of AOROs. The OOR provided input to LBFC, and I expect that survey to provide additional insights.)

The OOR’s survey asked five substantive questions:

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Agency Open Records Officer Guidebook

The Office of Open Records website (which, by the way, is scheduled to get a much-improved look and feel tomorrow!) includes numerous guides about the Right-to-Know Law for both requesters and agencies.

The newest — and most comprehensive — of these is our new Agency Open Records Officer Guidebook (PDF).

The AORO Guidebook, 79 pages in total (with a variety of sample forms agencies can use as templates), is designed to provide a general overview of the RTKL process from an agency perspective. We tried to write it to be helpful for both new and veteran AOROs.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please post them here or tweet to @ErikOpenRecords or @OpenRecordsPA. You can also email us at openrecords@pa.gov.