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RIGHT TO KNOW

The Department of Corrections has established an Agency Open Records Officer (AORO) to respond to Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) Requests. 
 
 
Department of Corrections’ RTKL Policy
(From Department Policy DC-ADM 003, Release of Information)
 
All RTKL requests received by the Department will be processed in accordance with the RTKL, 65 P.S. § 67.101 et seq., as well as, Management Directive 205.36, which is incorporated into this policy by reference.
1. RTKL Requests
a. A written request to the Department under the RTKL must :
i. Be addressed to the Department’s Agency Open Records Officer (AORO) at :
Andrew J. Filkosky, Agency Open Records Officer
Department of Corrections
Right-to-Know Law Office
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
Fax: (717) 728-0312
ii. Identify the name and address to which the Department should address its response;
iii. State that the request is being made pursuant to the RTKL;
iv. Be submitted in person or by mail, e-mail or facsimile;
v. Be sufficiently specific so as to enable the Department to ascertain which records are being requested;
vi. Be from a legal resident of the United States.
b. Verbal requests will not be accepted and such requests are not entitled to the relief and remedies provided under the RTKL.
c. RTKL Requests may be submitted on the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records’ (OOR) “Standard Right-To-Know Request Form,” which is available as Attachment B of this policy. 
d. The regular business hours of the RTKL Office are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (except for state holidays). Any RTKL request received by the RTKL Office after the close of regular business hours shall be deemed to have been received on the following business day.
e. All RTKL requests received at any correctional facility, Community Corrections Center, Motivational Boot Camp or any other bureau or office of the Department shall immediately be forwarded to the AORO at the address above. The statutory time for the Department to respond to a request will not begin to run until such time as the AORO actually receives the request.
f. The Department’s Press Secretary shall be notified of all Right-to-Know Law requests made by the media, and shall be provided a copy of all such initial requests and a copy of the final responses.
2. RTKL Responses
The AORO may respond by providing a requester with access to inspect a record electronically or otherwise maintained by the Department, either: 1) by providing access at the Department’s RTKL Office; 2) sending a copy to the requester; or 3) by notifying the requester that the record is available through publicly accessible electronic means. Each of these options is a “response” for purposes of the RTKL, as is the Department’s written notice to the requester granting, denying or partially granting and partially denying access to a record. The Department may send written responses to requesters by United States mail, by hand (in person or by delivery service), by facsimile, or by e-mail.
Unless a longer period of time is needed and communicated to the requester by an “interim response” (as discussed in paragraph “a” below), the RTKL requires that the Department respond to a RTKL request within five business days. For purposes of determining the end of the five business day period, the day that a RTKL request is received is not counted. The first day of the five business day period is the Department’s next business day.
a. Interim Responses
The Department must provide a final response to a RTKL request within 5 business days unless one for more specific conditions are satisfied and the AORO gives the requester written notice that additional time will be required. That notice is referred to as an “interim response.”
The AORO may send an interim response if any of the following applies:
i. The RTKL request requires redaction of a record;
ii. The RTKL request requires retrieval of a record from a remote location;
iii. A response within the 5 business day period cannot be accomplished due to bona fide staffing limitations, and such limitations must be specified in the interim response;
iv. A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record requested is subject to access under the RTKL;
v. The requester has not complied with the Department’s policies regarding access to public records;
vi. The requester has not complied with a demand for prepayment of fees, which are required to fulfill the RTKL request and which are estimated to exceed $100; further, if prepayment of fees is required by the Department, the time period for response shall be tolled from the time the demand for payment is made until such time as payment is actually received; or
vii. The extent or nature of the request precludes a response within the required time period.
An interim response must: 1) be sent to the requester on or before the last day of the 5 business day period; 2) state that the request is being reviewed and the reason for the review; 3) state a reasonable date that a response is expected to be provided; 4) provide an estimate of applicable fees for access when the record becomes available.
If the date of an expected response is in excess of 30 days following the original five business day period, the request will be deemed denied unless the requester has agreed in writing to the date specified in the notice.
b. Final Responses
There are three possible final responses. The request will be: 1) granted; 2) denied; or 3) granted in part and denied in part. The failure to make a timely response is deemed to be a denial.
If a written request is denied in whole or in part, the Department will issue a final written response that will include an explanation of the procedure for the requester to appeal, if the requester would choose to do so. The written denial will also set forth the specific reasons for the denial, including citations to applicable legal authority. If the denial is the result of a determination that the record is exempt from disclosure, the specific reasons for the Department’s determination shall be included.
c. Redaction
The Department will not deny access to a record because portions of the record are not public records and not subject to disclosure. Rather, the Department will redact the portions that are not public records and produce the portions that are public records.
d. Access
The Department may provide a requester with access to inspect a record electronically or as otherwise maintained by the Department by: 1) providing access at the Department’s RTKL Office; 2) sending a copy to the requester; 3) notifying the requester that the record is available through publicly accessible electronic means.
The Department will provide a public record to a requester in the medium requested if the record exists in that medium. Otherwise, the public record must be provided in the medium in which it exists. If a public record only exists in one medium, the Department is not required to convert that public record to another medium, except that if the public record is only available in an electronic form, the Department must print it out on paper upon request.
The Department is not required to create a public record that does not already exist, nor is it required to compile, maintain, format, or organize a public record in a manner in which the Department does not currently do so.
e. Duplication of Public Records
The Department may copy the public record for the requester or contract for duplication services and require the requester to pay the applicable rate. At its discretion, the Department may also allow the requester to bring the necessary equipment onto Department premises for the requester to make its own copies or the Department may allow the requester to utilize the Department’s duplication equipment.
3. RTKL Appeals
When a request is denied or deemed denied, whether in whole or in part, the requester may file an appeal with the Office of Open records. The appeal must be filed within 15 business days of the denial or deemed denial. The appeal must state the grounds upon which the requester asserts that the record is public, and should address any ground stated upon by the Department for delaying or denying the request. The appeal must be sent to:
The Commonwealth Office of Open Records
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, Plaza Level
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
PH: (717) 346-9903
A person other that the Department or the requester, with a direct interest in the record that is subject to an appeal, has 15 days following actual knowledge of the appeal, but no later than the date that the Appeals Officer issues an order, to file a written request to provide information or to appear before the Appeals Officer in support of the requester’s or the Department’s position on the appeal. The Appeals Officer may, but needs not, grant the request.
For further information on appeals, it is suggested that the requester review the website of the Office of Open Records.
4. RTKL Fees
Applicable fees to be charged by the Department under the RTKL are as follows:
a. Fees Determined by the Office of Open Records
Under the RTKL, the Office of Open Records has the authority to establish fees for duplication and enhanced electronic access.
In accordance with the fees established for duplication by the Office of Open Records and posted on its website (http://openrecords.pa.gov), the Department will charge $.25 per page for duplication and does not have a fee for enhanced electronic access.
b. Specialized Fees
i. The Department will charge $1 per copy for certified copies, when requested by the requester.
ii. The Department will charge the actual cost for postage, facsimile/microfiche or other media, as well as for specialized documents.
iii. Special rules apply to fees for transcripts of administrative proceedings:
1. Prior to an adjudication becoming “final, binding and non-appealable,” transcripts may be requested through the Department, however, the stenographer or court reporter is permitted to charge the regular fee for this service;
2. Following an adjudication becoming “final, binding and non-appealable,” a request for the transcript shall be treated like any other request for a record and the usual duplication fee of $.25 per page will be applied.
c. Reasonable and Necessarily Incurred Costs
As expressly provided by the RTKL (65 P.S. § 67.1307(g)), the Department has the authority to charge requester reasonable fees for necessarily incurred costs. The Department will determine and charge such fees on a case by case basis.
d. General
No charge shall be made for agency or legal review of a record to determine whether the requested records are public records that are subject to access under the RTKL.
If the estimated fees that are required to fulfill the RTKL request exceed $100, it may be necessary for the requester to pay the estimated amount in advance. The demand for prepayment may specify a reasonable period of time in which the requester must make such prepayment. If the requester fails to make prepayment with such time, the Department will not be required to produce the requested records.
In all cases, all applicable fees must be paid in order to receive access to the requested record.