State of Pennsylvania Right-To-Know Law (RTKL)The law, signed into law on February 14th, 2008 and fully enacted on January 1, 2009, regulates open records for all government agencies in the State of Pennsylvania. Some of those regulations are stated below.
- Although the RTKL took effect on January 1, 2009, all records in the possession of an Agency are covered by the RTKL. This is true even if the records are many years, decades, or even centuries old. Under the current RTKL, all state and local government agency records are presumed to be public.
- The law prohibits an agency from requiring a person to disclose the purpose or motive in requesting access to records.
- The law defines "requester" as "a person that is a legal resident of the United States and requests records pursuant to this act." Any legal resident of the United States cam file a request under the RTKL.
- Requesters should use good judgement in seeking agency records. The RTKL should not be used to harass or overburden an agency. however, an agency cannot limit the number of records which may be requested or made available for inspection or duplication.
- A requester can ask, but agencies are not required to provide records in response to verbal requests. Additionally, if a requester wants to file an appeal, the request must have been made in writing. If a requester wants to file an appeal, they must have a copy of the request to present to the PA State Office of Open Records.
- Under the RTKL, an agency has the burden of proving that it is permitted to withhold a record. Merely stating that a record does not exist or making other factual assertions isn't enough for an agency to meet its burden of proof. In general, an agency must submit an affidavit sworn to under the penalty of perjury to support its assertion.
- No fees may be imposed for an agency's review of a record to determine whether the record is subject to access under the RTKL. The only fees that may be imposed are for physical copies of the requested records.
For frequently asked questions, click here.
For instructions on how to file, click here.
For the Official RTKL fee schedule, click here.
For Official forms, click here.
For the RTKL citizens guide, click here.