Pennsylvania's Right To Know (RTK) Law
The Right To Know law is designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental agencies in Pennsylvania.
During the COVID-19 state of emergency, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records has issued the following advisory:
“Requesters: Unless you have an urgent need to access records, please do not file any new RTKL requests at this time. Additionally, in most cases, inspecting records will not be possible during the emergency; if a request is necessary, please seek copies of records (preferably electronic).”
Please also note that any day on which the Upper Darby Township Municipal Building is closed shall not count towards the statutory deadline for responding to a request for records. Requests will be processed in the order received, and only on days when the Open Records Officer is physically present to have access to Township documents. Thanks for your patience. Stay healthy.
How does the Process Work?
- A Citizen determines who the Open Records Officer for the specific agency is and if the Agency has a right-to-know request form.
- After determining what information they wish to request, the Citizen files it (by Fax, Email, In person or U.S. Mail) with the Agency in question.
- The day after the request is received during regular business hours begins the 5 day response time for the agency.
Example: You file a request on Tuesday at 4:00PM with Upper Darby Township. The "5 Day Response Time" begins on Wednesday (not on Tuesday).
- The Agency has five business days to respond in writing as whether to:
- Grant the Request
- Deny the Request (Showing basis for their denial/partial denial*)
- Invoke the 30-day Extension** (Showing their reasoning)
- If the Agency does not respond to the request within the 5 days, the request is deemed "denied*".
- The Agency may charge appropriate fees if the citizen requests copies of the records. In the case of Upper Darby Township, the fee is $0.25 per page of a regular copy.
- Should the total charge of the copies for the request be expected to exceed $100.00, the agency is allowed to request this be prepaid.
* Record Denial
If the Agency denies the request, the denial will be issued in writing and will include the description of the record request, the specific reasoning for the denial, the contact information of the Agency's Open Records Officer, and the date of the response as well as the procedure for an appeal.
** 30-day Extension
Reasoning for a 30-day Extension may include (but is not limited to): Record Redaction, Off-site Record Storage, Legal Review, Refusal of Fee Payment, Scope of Request precludes a response within the required time period.
- Make sure that information you're requesting isn't already available on the Township Website. While the Township will still fulfill your RTK request, if the information is already freely available on this website, it can save your time, the Township's time and taxpayer money.
- Be specific and concise when requesting records: "Identify the records you want as specifically as you can, so that an Agency can quickly locate them and determine whether they are public record."
- Determine whether the information is exempt from the RTK Law.
- Decide whether you truly need physical copies of the documents or wish to save yourself the expense by Inspecting the Records.
- Confirm that you have filled out the request form properly. It's always a good idea to double check the information.