Right to Know Policy

Effective January 1, 2009

(Revised 4/4/13)

  1. PURPOSE. To establish the policy of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) concerning the receipt of and response to requests for legislative records pursuant to the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL), as amended (65 P.S. §§ 67.101 – 67.3104).
  2. MISSION. The IRRC will respond to requests for access to legislative records in full compliance with the RTKL in order to assure that requesters have access to the records in a timely, effective and efficient manner.
  3. PUBLIC AVAILABILITY OF POLICY. This policy is available for inspection at the IRRC Office, and is posted on the IRRC website. A copy of this policy may be obtained at no cost from the IRRC Office.
  4. CONTACT INFORMATION. Written, signed requests for public information under the RTKL may be submitted as follows
    1. Via U.S. Mail, addressed as follows:
      Open Records Officer
      Independent Regulatory Review Commission
      333 Market Street, 14th Floor
      Harrisburg, PA 17101
    2. Delivered in person to the Open Records Officer at the address noted in above.
    3. Facsimile Transmission to (717) 783-2664.
    4. Electronic Transmission addressed to RTKofficer@irrc.state.pa.us.
  5. DEFINITIONS. All terms defined by the RTKL shall have the meaning assigned by the statute. Other terms relevant to this policy have the following meanings:
    1. Appeal. A written document filed with the Appeals Officer by a requester challenging the denial or deemed denial of a request by IRRC’s Open Records Officer.
    2. Appeals Officer. The official so designated by the Legislative Reference Bureau pursuant to Section 503 of the RTKL (65 P.S. § 67.503(c)).
    3. Business day. Any day other than a Saturday or Sunday, except those days when the offices of the Commission are closed for all or part of a day due to:
      1. A legal holiday;
      2. A day declared a holiday by the Office of Administration; or
      3. Any day IRRC is officially closed.
      4. A natural or other disaster.
      5. The request or direction of local, state or federal law enforcement agencies or officials.
    4. Deemed denied. A request is deemed denied if one of the following conditions occurs, subject to extensions as agreed to by the requester:
      1. The Open Records Officer fails to make an interim or final response within the initial five business days period following receipt of a request for access to a legislative record;
      2. The Open Records Officer extends the five business day period by up to 30 calendar days, but then fails to respond by the end of the extended 30 calendar day period; or
      3. The Open Records Officer notifies the requester that additional time in excess of the 30 calendar day period is required for response.
    5. Final response. A written response from IRRC to a requester that grants, denies, or grants in part and denies in part, a RTKL request.
    6. Interim response. A written response from IRRC to a requester indicating that more than five business days will be required for a final response, due to specified circumstances.
    7. IRRC. Independent Regulatory Review Commission, a legislative agency.
    8. Legislative record. As defined in Section 102 of the RTKL (65 P.S. § 67.102) and includes a financial record, fiscal notes, the minutes of and record of attendance of members at a public hearing or meeting, the transcript of a public hearing when available, any administrative staff manuals or written policies, an annual audit report prepared pursuant to the act of June 30, 1970 (P.L. 442, No. 151), final or annual reports required by law to be submitted to the General Assembly, a record communicating to an agency the official appointment of a legislative appointee, a record communicating to the appointing authority the resignation of a legislative appointee, proposed regulations final-form regulations and final-omitted regulations submitted to IRRC.
    9. Mailing date. The date affixed to IRRC’s response to a request, which is the same date that the response is deposited in the U.S. Mail. For a person submitting a request or exceptions to the Open Records Officer’s denial of a request, the transmission date affixed to a facsimile, the date stamp affixed by the Open Records Officer to a request or exceptions delivered in person, or the date of the postmark on the envelope in which the request or exceptions is enclosed. If the postmark is illegible or if there is no postmark, the mailing date is deemed to be the first business day that immediately precedes the date on which the request or exceptions are received by the Open Records Officer.
    10. Open Records Officer. The Communications Manager of IRRC or other employee designated by the Executive Director to receive and respond to RTKL requests.
    11. Redaction. The eradication of the non-public portion of a record while retaining the remainder.
    12. Request. A written request for access to a legislative record submitted by a requester to the Open Records Officer pursuant to the RTKL.
    13. Requester. Any individual or entity that requests access to a legislative record pursuant to the RTKL.
    14. RTKL. The Right to Know Law enacted February 14, 2008 (65 P.S. §§ 67.101 – 67.3104).
  6. PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING RTKL REQUESTS.
    1. Receipt. The Open Records Officer will receive requests submitted to the IRRC, and issue interim and final responses.
    2. Denial. A request for legislative records will be denied unless it is in writing and contains the following:
      1. The full name and signature of the requester;
      2. The address to which the response is to be sent;
      3. The daytime telephone number where the requester can be reached;
      4. The fax number of the requester, if any; and
      5. A description of the documents with sufficient specificity in order to enable the Open Records Officer to ascertain specifically what documents are requested.
    3. Calculation of the Five Business Day Period. The five business day period does not begin to run until the Open Records Officer receives a request. For purposes of determining the end of the five business day period, the first day is IRRC’s next business day after the Open Records Officer receives a request.
    4. Receipt by a Person Other Than the Open Records Officer. If a Commissioner or an employee of IRRC, other than the Open Records Officer, receives a request, that person will, within a reasonable time, either return the request to the requester or forward the request to the Open Records Officer. If the request is returned to the requester, the person who returns it will inform the requester that the request must be sent to the Open Records Officer and will provide the requester with the name and address of the Open Records Officer.
    5. Processing of Requests. Upon receipt of a request, the Open Records Officer will:
      1. Date stamp the request;
      2. Assign a tracking number to the request;
      3. Record the request in the IRRC tracking system;
      4. Compute the day when the five business day period will expire and note that day on the request;
      5. Make an electronic copy of the request, including the envelope, email or facsimile cover sheet which was submitted with the request; and
      6. Create a file for the retention of the original request, a copy of the response provided, and a record of verbal or written communications with the requester and a copy of other communications.
    6. Business Hours. The regular business hours of the Open Records Officer are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A request received by the Open Records Officer after the close of regular business hours shall be deemed to have been received on the following business day.
    7. Initial Review. Upon receiving a request, the Open Records Officer will determine whether:
      1. The records sought by the requester are identified with sufficient specificity;
      2. The requested records are within the RTKL’s definition of “legislative records;”
      3. The requested records are in the possession or control of the IRRC;
      4. The RTKL request may be granted, in whole or in part, without further consideration.
    8. Contact with Requester. The Open Records Officer may contact the requester in order to obtain clarification or additional information. A copy of written correspondence to or from the requester will become a part of the RTKL file. If contact is verbal, either in person or by telephone, the Open Records Officer will immediately reduce the conversation to writing and include the written record of the conversation in the file. If, as a part of any such contact, the Open Records Officer concludes that the requester has changed his or her request, the Open Records Officer will obtain the requester’s oral or written concurrence and will record and retain in the file a record of that concurrence. If the result of the modification is a more specific explanation of the original request or a reduction of that request, the modification will not be considered a new request. If, however, the modification results in a request for different or additional documents, it will be treated as a new request as to those documents.
    9. Prepayment of Fees. The Open Records Officer will determine whether the estimated fees required to fulfill the request exceed $100. If so, the Open Records Officer will present the requester with a written demand for prepayment by certified check or money order. The demand for prepayment will specify a reasonable period of time in which the requester must make such prepayment. If the requester fails to make prepayment within the specified time, the Open Records Officer may deny the request on that basis.
    10. Responses to Requests. For the purposes of the RTKL, a “response” to a request is either:
      1. Providing a requester with access to a legislative record, within five days, either in the offices of IRRC or by sending a copy to the requester by First Class Mail, facsimile or electronic transmission; or
      2. A written explanation sent by the Open Records Officer to the requester, within five days, by First Class Mail, facsimile or electronic transmission, explaining why timely access cannot be provided.
    11. Physical Access to Records.
      1. The Open Records Officer will determine, at her discretion, the room where legislative records will be made available to a requester.
      2. Legislative records will be accessible for inspection by a requester during the regular working hours of the Open Records Officer. In the case of a legislative record that is available only through electronic means, the Open Records Officer will provide access at a computer terminal in the IRRC office, under supervision, as deemed appropriate, to prevent access to information which is not a legislative record.
      3. A legislative record will be provided to a requester in the medium requested if the record exists in that medium. Otherwise, the record will be provided in the medium in which it exists. If a legislative record only exists in one medium, the Open Records Officer will not convert that record to another medium, except that where the record is only available in electronically and the requestor is unwilling or unable to access it in that format, the Open Records Officer will convert the record to paper.
      4. The Open Records Officer will not create a legislative record that does not already exist, nor will she compile, maintain, format or organize the record in a manner in which records are not currently maintained at the IRRC.
    12. Interim Response. An interim response is written notice from the Open Records Officer to the requester that additional time will be required in order to provide the legislative records requested. The interim response may be hand delivered or sent by First Class Mail, facsimile or electronic transmission. The Open Records Officer will send the interim response to the requester before the end of the five business day period. The interim response will contain the following information:
      1. A statement notifying the requester that the request for access is being reviewed; and
      2. An approximate date within a reasonable period of time when a response is expected to be provided. This date will not exceed 30 calendar days from the end of the five business day period.
    13. Reasons for Extension of Time. The Open Records Officer may obtain an extension of time in which to provide a final response for any of the following reasons:
      1. Redaction of portions of the legislative record is required;
      2. The request for access requires the retrieval of a record stored in a remote location;
      3. A response within the five business days cannot be accomplished due to bona fide staffing limitations at the IRRC, including those resulting from business disruptions caused by weather and other occurrences;
      4. The requester has not complied with this policy or the RTKL regarding access to public records;
      5. A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record requested is a legislative record as defined by the RTKL; or
      6. The requester refuses to pay applicable fees authorized by the RTKL. If prepayment of fees is required by the Open Records Officer, 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.
    14. Final Responses.
      1. The Open Records Officer may provide one of the following written final responses to a request:
        1. Grant the entire request.
        2. Deny the entire request.
        3. Grant part of the request but deny the remainder.
      2. The failure of the Open Records Officer to make a timely final response is a deemed denial.
      3. The Open Records Officer will grant the request if:
        1. The request is within the RTKL definition of a legislative record.
        2. The request is not within the RTKL definition of a legislative record but the Executive Director or the Chief Counsel has directed the Open Records Officer to provide access to the requested record. In that case the Open Records Officer will include a statement in the final response that provision of the record does not constitute an admission that the record is a legislative record.
      4. If a request is denied in whole or in part, the Open Records Officer’s final response will include the following:
        1. A description of the record requested.
        2. The specific reasons for the denial, including a citation of supporting legal authority. If the denial is the result of a determination that the record requested is not a public record, the specific reasons for the determination that the record is not a legislative record shall be included.
        3. The procedure to appeal the denial of access under the RTKL and this Policy.
    15. Electronic Access. The Open Records Officer will determine which records, if any, will be made available electronically.
    16. Redaction. If only portions of a record are legislative records, the Open Records Officer will redact the portions that are not legislative records and provide access to the portions that are public records.
    17. Duplication of Legislative Records. The Open Records Officer will make copies of the records provided to a requester. A requester may not use IRRC equipment to make copies or bring personal equipment to the IRRC office to make copies.
  7. APPEALS. All appeals must be filed in accordance with the statement of policy implemented by the Legislative Reference Bureau (found at http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/101/chapter31/101_0031.pdf).
  8. FEES AND CHARGES. The following fees will be charged for photocopies.
    1. One standard 8.5” x 11” page - $.25.
    2. One irregularly sized page - $.50.
    3. Certified Copies. A fee of $5.00 per document will be charged for certification, in addition to the per copy fee.
    4. Delivery. The following fees will be charged for delivery:
      1. Material fitting into standard letter envelope, weighing one ounce or less, and sent by First Class U.S. Mail – No Charge.
      2. Other means of delivery – Actual Cost.
    5. Other Costs. Reasonable fees may be charged for labor and other expenses necessary to comply with the request for access to, or copying of, requested records, but not for determining whether requested records are legislative records required to be provided to the requester pursuant to the RTKL.