"The Mission of the Office of Open Records is to enforce the state’s Right-to-Know law and to serve as a resource for citizens, public officials and members of the media in obtaining public records of their government."
A Message from the Executive Director
Ensuring open and honest government is a bedrock principle of democracy. It can only be attained through the unfettered exchange of information between citizens and their government. A citizen’s right-to-know, sometimes known as freedom of information, fosters accountability, prevents abuses of power and promotes trust in government. Pennsylvania has codified this important right to access government records in Act 3 of 2008, called the Right-to-Know law.
The Right-To-Know law fundamentally changed the way people access public records of their government. The hallmark of this law, which took effect January 1, 2009, is its presumption of openness. For the first time in Pennsylvania history, citizens no longer have to prove that a record is public and that it should be released. Now, a government agency must presume that a record is a public record available for inspection or copying. If the government agency chooses to withhold a record, the agency has the burden to prove – with legal citation – why that record should not be available to the public.
The law, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, also established a quasi-judicial tribunal, the Office of Open Records. The mission of the Office of Open Records is to implement and enforce the Right-to-Know law and to serve as a resource to citizens, public officials, and members of the media.
The Office of Open records has decided over 6,000 appeals since 2009. It has also answered tens of thousands of citizen e-mails and phone calls. It is my great privilege to serve as the Commonwealth’s first Executive Director of this independent agency. You have my pledge that I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure compliance with the law and to help citizens, government officials, and members of the media better understand their rights and obligations.
I encourage you to look through our website where you will find regularly updated information about the law and a schedule of on-going trainings regarding this law. I will always welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions to improve access to government because I believe that this government does not belong to me, or to any other public official, but rather this government belongs to you.