If an Agency denies a record, or a portion of a record, the requester has a right to file an appeal with the Office of Open Records. The appeal must be submitted to the Office of Open Records within 15 business days of the mailing date of the Agency’s response. Appeals should be sent to the Office of Open Records, 333 Market Street, 16th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17101-2234. They may also be submitted via facsimile to 717-425-5343 or via email as a Microsoft Word or PDF attachment. All appeals must be in writing and shall include the following information that may be submitted using the OOR’s Appeal Form:
- A copy of the original Right-to-Know Request.
- A copy of the denial letter submitted by the Agency. (If the agency does not respond in writing within five business days, the request is “deemed denied” [i.e., automatically denied] and can be appealed.)
- State the grounds you believe the record is a public record – you must state why you believe the requested record is a public record – a general statement that the record is public under the Right-to-Know Law is insufficient.
- Address all grounds that the Agency raised in its denial – you must state why you believe each of the agency’s denial, arguments, and exemptions are incorrect – a general statement that the agency is incorrect is insufficient.
The Office of Open Records is required to dismiss any appeal that does not include this information.
NOTE: Appeals which are filed by hard copy (i.e., by mail) MUST be submitted on 8 ½ x 11 or 8 ½ x 14 inch paper. Failure to submit hard copy appeals on 8 ½ x 11 or 8 ½ x 14-inch paper will result in the appeal being DISMISSED, unless the party filing the document specifically seeks and is granted permission to file non-conforming papers. Any other documents filed in an appeal should be filed on 8 ½ x 11 or 8 ½ x 14-inch paper to the extent possible.
When the Office of Open Records receives the appeal, it has 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal to issue a Final Determination.
The Office of Open Records may conduct a hearing (which is a non-appealable decision) or an in-camera review. It may decide the case on the basis of the information filed with the Office. It may seek additional information from the involved parties. In most cases, the Office of Open Records will issue a Final Determination based on information and evidence provided to our Office without conducting a hearing.
When the Office of Open Records issues a Final Determination it is binding on the Agency and requester. If the Agency or the requester wants to appeal the ruling of the Office of Open Records, the appeal must be filed with the appropriate court within 30 calendar days of the mailing of the Final Determination by the Office.
If the parties appeal a Final Determination to Commonwealth Court or a Court of Common Pleas, the Right-to-Know Law requires that the Office of Open Records be served notice of the appeal