Right-to-Know Request and Appeals Process

Initial Request for Records

Submit your request by:
1. Fax
2. Electronic mail
3. In person
4. U.S. Mail

Retain a copy; if the request is denied and you want to appeal the denial to the Office of Open Records (OOR), you must include your request and the agency’s denial with your appeal.

If possible, determine the agency’s Open Records Officer and whether the agency requires use of its own Right-to-Know request form. But you can always use the OOR Uniform Request Form.

To respond, the agency has five [5] business days from the day after the request is received by the Open Records Officer during regular business hours. It can 1) grant the request; 2) deny the request in whole or in part; or 3) invoke a 30-day extension for certain reasons, including off-site location of records, staffing limitations, need for legal review or redaction, complex request, or requester did not pay applicable fees as required, or failed to follow agency policy.

Appeal to the Office of Open Records

You can file an appeal to the OOR within 15 business days of the mailing date of the agency’s denial. Appeals should be sent to the Office of Open Records, Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North St., Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225. They may also be submitted via facsimile to 717-425-5343 or via email to openrecords@pa.gov as a Microsoft Word or PDF attachment.

Appeals must be in writing, may be submitted using the OOR Appeals Forms, and must include the following information or it will be dismissed:

  • A copy of the Right-to-Know request;
  • A copy of the agency’s denial letter;
  • The grounds you believe the record is public; a general statement that the record is public under the Right-to-Know law is insufficient;
  • The reasons why you believe that each of the agency’s grounds for denial are incorrect; a general statement that the agency is incorrect is insufficient.

The OOR has 30 calendar days from the date of its receipt of the appeal to issue a Final Determination. The OOR may (1) conduct a hearing; (2) a private (in camera) review of the disputed record(s); (3) decide the case on the basis of the information filed; (4) seek additional information. The Final Determination is binding on the parties.

Petition for Judicial Review

Any petition for judicial review must be made within 30 calendar days of the mailing of the Final Determination by the OOR and a notice of that appeal must be served on the OOR.