OFFICE OF THE BUDGET
Right-to-Know Law Policy
[35 Pa.B. 1842]
This policy sets out the procedures for requesting access to, or copies of, public records from the Office of the Budget (OB) under the act of June 21, 1957 (65 P. S. §§ 66.1--66.9), known as the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL). This policy is issued under section 8 of the RTKL (65 P. S. § 66.8).
This policy is effective as of the date of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and shall remain in effect until superseded or until withdrawn by the OB. A copy of this policy is available at the OB's RTKL Office, and may be obtained at no cost by contacting the OB's RTKL Official. A copy of this policy is also posted on the OB's website at www.budget.state.pa.us.
This policy does not apply to the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, the Governor's Executive Offices, the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Administration, the Office of Inspector General, the Human Relations Commission or the Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Each of these other offices or agencies has its own separate written RTKL policy.
Section 1: RTKL Request
1.1. OB's RTKL Official and RTKL Office address. All requests for access to OB's public records must be addressed and sent to:
James A. Chichi, Right to Know Law Official
Right to Know Law Office
Office of the Budget
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Verizon Tower, 7th floor
303 Walnut Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1808
Telephone Number: 717-787-1370
Facsimile Number: 717-772-0074
1.2. OB's RTKL Office hours. The regular business hours of OB's RTKL Office are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
OB's RTKL Office will be closed on all state holidays, and on any other day on which the offices under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Pennsylvania are officially closed.
A RTKL request that is received by the RTKL Office after the close of regular business hours shall be deemed to have been received by the RTKL Office on the following business day. For example, a request received via facsimile transmission at 10:00 p.m. on a Friday will be deemed to have been received by the RTKL Office on the following Monday, unless OB's RTKL Office is closed on the following Monday in which case the request will be deemed to have been received on the following Tuesday.
1.3. Methods for delivering requests. Written requests for access to public records must be sent or delivered to OB's RTKL Official or Office via one of the following methods:
A. by United States Mail;
B. by hand-delivery to OB's RTKL Office; or
C. by facsimile machine at the facsimile telephone number of OB's RTKL official.
1.4. RTKL requests must be delivered to OB's RTKL Office. OB's RTKL Office is the only office in OB that has the authority and responsibility to receive and respond to RTKL requests submitted to OB. OB's RTKL Official is the only OB employee with the authority and responsibility to issue a response to a RTKL request. No other official or office of OB is authorized to receive or respond to RTKL requests. Delivery of an RTKL request to any person other than OB's RTKL Official, or to any office other than OB's RTKL Office, does not obligate OB to respond to the request, and does not start OB's legal obligations under the RTKL.
1.5. Content of request. A request for access to public records made to OB must:
A. be made in writing;
B. identify the requestor by his or her full name;
C. contain the full address of the requestor's residence;
D. be signed by the requestor;
E. identify the return address to which OB should send its response to the request;
F. clearly state that the request is made pursuant to the Right to Know Law; and,
G. identify or describe the record(s) sought by the requestor with sufficient specificity to enable OB to understand what records are being requested.
To ensure that a RTKL request is properly processed by OB, the words ''RIGHT TO KNOW LAW REQUEST'' shall clearly and explicitly appear on the written request itself, and on either the delivery envelope or the facsimile cover sheet.
1.6. Additional contact information. OB asks that a RTKL request also include the requestor's daytime telephone number in the event that OB's RTKL Official needs to contact the requestor about his or her RTKL request.
1.7. OB RTKL Official may contact requestor. OB's RTKL Official may, at his or her sole discretion, contact a requestor to obtain clarification or additional information from the requestor to aid the RTKL Official in responding to the request.
1.8. Oral/verbal, emailed, or anonymous RTKL requests not accepted. OB shall not accept or respond to:
A. oral or verbal RTKL requests;
B. RTKL requests that are submitted by email, or by any other electronic method (except for requests submitted via facsimile machine), or by any method other than those permitted by this policy; or
C. anonymous RTKL requests, or any request which does not otherwise clearly identify the name and address of the person making the request.
Any oral, emailed, or anonymous RTKL request will be denied.
1.9. RTKL request must be in a separate document. A RTKL request must be set forth in a separate, stand-alone document, and that document must be submitted to OB's RTKL Office. Demands or requests for access to records that are included in other documents (e.g., discovery requests) are inconsistent with these public policies and may be denied by OB on that basis.
1.10. Access to documents in general. The following provisions apply generally to the access to public records under the RTKL:
A. Right to access. The RTKL provides Pennsylvania residents with the right of access to certain public records in OB's possession. Subject to the limitations in the RTKL, the requestor's right of access consists of the right to inspect a document in-person, and the right to have a copy of it.
B. Physical access generally. OB's RTKL Official is the only individual in OB who has the authority to grant physical, in-person, access to OB's public records. The RTKL Official may, in his or her discretion, impose reasonable restrictions as to the time, place, and nature of the physical access. Unless a requestor clearly and specifically requests access to the original record, OB will be deemed to have provided the requestor with access to the public record when OB provides the requestor with access to a copy of the record(s).
C. Access provided by mailing a copy of the record(s). OB's act of mailing a copy of the public record to the requestor at the address given by the requestor in his or her request constitutes providing the requestor with physical access to the public record(s). Whenever OB grants access in whole or in part to a public record and a requestor does not specify what type of access he or she seeks, OB will provide access to the requestor by mailing a copy of the record to the requestor at the address listed in the request.
D. Records available via OB's website. Some of OB's public records are available via OB's website. Physical access to such records is therefore provided through OB having posted those records on its website. Where OB has already posted a requested record on its website, OB will be deemed to have provided access to the record, and the requestor will be directed to access the record via the website.
Section 2: Fees
2.1. Fees in general. The cost of providing access to public records is to be borne by the requestor, and will be charged to the requestor by OB in accordance with the RTKL.
2.2. Standard fees. Except in an instance when work is performed by a contractor to OB, the following standard fees shall be charged to the requestor:
I. 1--10 photocopies: No charge.
II. 11 or more photocopies: $0.15 per photocopy.
III. Irregular-sized page: Between $0.15 and $0.50 per photocopy.
B. Certified Photocopies: $5.00 for each certified document regardless of the length.
C. Other materials:
I. PC Diskettes or CDs: $1.00 per 3.5" diskette or CD.
II. Microfilm or microfiche: OB's actual cost.
I. Standard mailing envelope: Records that fit into a standard letter mailing envelope shall be mailed at no-charge to the requestor.
II. Other types of mailing: Records that are mailed in any type of envelope or packaging other than a standard mailing envelope shall be charged at OB's actual cost of mailing.
E. Redaction: $1.00 per page or photocopy.
F. Definitions. For the purposes of this policy, the words below shall be defined as follows:
I. Photocopy. A single sided-copy, or one side of a double-sided copy, of a standard 8.5" × 11" page.
II. Irregular sized page. Any page which is not a standard 8.5" × 11" page.
2.3. Prepayment of fees. OB may, in its discretion, require a requestor to prepay a fee if OB expects the fee to be in excess of $100.00. In instances where some or all of the work will be performed by a contractor to OB, OB may require that the requestor make the prepayment directly to the contractor, and that the requestor agree to make payment of any outstanding balance directly to the contractor.
2.4. Other fees. In addition to the above listed fees, requestors may also responsible for paying other fees necessary for OB to comply with a request for access to, or copying of, requested records, including, but not limited to OB's actual costs associated with: transporting the documents to or from a contractor that is performing services associated with the provision of access to records; the removal and reattachment of fasteners to documents; searching collections of public records to locate the particular record(s) requested by the requestor; and, retrieving the requested records from storage.
2.5. Payment of fees. All costs must be paid by the requestor by either a check or money order made payable to ''Commw. of PA/Office of the Budget.''
Section 3: The Exceptions Process
3.1. Right to file written exceptions. If OB denies in whole or in part a written request for access to requested records, or is deemed to have denied the request, the requestor may file written exceptions to the denial with OB's RTKL Exceptions Official.
3.2. OB's RTKL Exceptions Official and RTKL Exceptions Office Address. Written exceptions shall be addressed and mailed or delivered to:
Michael Brennan, Right to Know Law Exceptions Official
Right to Know Law Exceptions Office
Office of the Budget
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Verizon Tower, 6th floor
303 Walnut Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1808
Telephone Number: 717-783-0114
Facsimile Number: 717-783-0361
OB's RTKL Exceptions Official may, in his or her discretion, appoint any other officer or employee of OB to serve as the acting RTKL Exceptions Official.
3.3. OB's RTKL Exceptions Office hours. The regular business hours of the office of OB's RTKL Exceptions Official are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
OB's RTKL Exceptions Office will be closed on all state holidays, and on any other day on which the offices under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Pennsylvania are officially closed.
Exceptions that are received in the RTKL Exceptions Official's office after the close of regular business hours shall be deemed to have been received on the following business day. For example, exceptions filed via facsimile transmission at 10:00 p.m. on a Friday will be deemed to have been received by the RTKL Exceptions Office on the following Monday, unless OB's RTKL Exceptions Office is closed on the following Monday in which case the request will be deemed to have been received on the following Tuesday.
3.4. Time for filing exceptions. The following provisions apply to the time for filing written exceptions to a denial or partial denial of access, or to a deemed denial of access:
A. Final response denying access. Written exceptions to a final written response from OB that denies access in whole or in part to requested documents must be filed with OB's RTKL Exceptions Official within 15 business days of the date on which OB mailed its final written response.
B. Deemed Denial. Written exceptions to a deemed denial of access by OB must be filed with OB's RTKL Exceptions Official within 15 calendar days of the date on which OB is deemed to have denied the request.
C. Exceptions filed after the end of the 15 day exceptions filing period. Regardless of the method chosen by the requestor to file his or her exceptions, any exceptions which are filed after the end of the applicable 15 day exceptions filing period are untimely and shall be dismissed.
3.5. Methods of filing exceptions. Written exceptions must be filed with OB's RTKL Exceptions Official using one of the following methods:
A. United States Mail. By mailing the written exceptions to the RTKL Exceptions Official through the United States Mail; or,
B. Personal delivery. By personally delivering the written exceptions to the RTKL Exceptions Official, or by having them delivered by a courier, messenger, parcel delivery, overnight messenger, or other similar service; or,
C. Facsimile Machine. By faxing the written exceptions to the RTKL Exceptions Official.
Requestors cannot file, or attempt to file, written exceptions by any other method, including but not limited to, email.
3.6. Oral/verbal, emailed, or anonymous exceptions not accepted. Oral, anonymous, or emailed exceptions will not be accepted and will be dismissed.
3.7. Exceptions must be delivered to OB's RTKL Exceptions Office. OB's RTKL Exceptions Official is the only individual in OB who has the authority and responsibility to consider and rule on exceptions to denials of access to OB records.
All exceptions to a denial or partial denial of access or a deemed denial of access that are sent or delivered to any address or person other than to OB's RTKL Exceptions Official at OB's RTKL Exceptions Office are defective, and shall not stop the running of the applicable 15 day exceptions filing period.
3.8. Hearings. The decision to hold a hearing regarding exceptions is vested solely in OB's RTKL Exceptions Official. The RTKL Exceptions Official will grant a hearing only if the requestor agrees in writing to waive the statutory time period in which the Exceptions Official must make a final decision.
MICHAEL J. MASCH,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 05-524. Filed for public inspection March 18, 2005, 9:00 a.m.]
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