Pa. Gaming Control Board v. OOR - 1134 C.D. 2009

The Commonwealth Court recently found in a split decision 4-3 that a valid request need not specifically specify attention to or be addressed to the government agency Open Records Officer, or even mention the Right to Know Law. In fact, all a valid request require is it be sufficiently specific under the requirements of Section 703 of the RTKL that the agency be able to ascertain what records are requested. 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, by 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. Writing for the dissent, Judge Pelligrini colorfully remarked that “because this Courts decision would allow a requester submit a proper request to any pendot employee on the back of a brown paper bag on the side of the road in a cold snowy night, I dissent.

While this case may be ripe for Supreme Court review, Spino & Newcomb are advising our government clients on the implications and offering solutions for how to conduct policy going forward. Give us a call at (215)554-6171.

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