THE RIGHT-TO-KNOW LAW REQUEST POLICY, effective January 1, 2009


 

In accordance with section 504 of the Right to Know Law, 65 P.S. § 67.101 et seq. (“RTKL”), the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (“Board”) sets forth the following information outlining the procedures and process regarding requests for records from the Board.

 

With the passage of the new RTKL, the Board has implemented new procedures to provide the public with better ways to obtain information from the Board.  To facilitate access to documents of public interest and reduce the need for RTKL requests, the Board makes many documents available through its website www.lcb.state.pa.us.  Further, the Board uploads contracts to the Department of Treasury website at http://contracts.patreasury.org/search.aspx pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 17 of the RTKL.  [65 P.S. §§ 67.1701-1702].

 

 

I.    REQUESTS

 

A.       Pursuant to section 703 of the RTKL [65 P.S. § 67.703], a written request to the Board under the RTKL must:

 

1. Be addressed to the Board’s Agency Open Records Officer (“AORO”), David E. Brooker at:

 

David E. Brooker

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Northwest Office Building, Room 417

Harrisburg, PA 17124

dbrooker@pa.gov

FAX: (717) 783-6614

 

2.  Identify a name and address to which the Board should address the response;

 

3.   State that the request is being made pursuant to the RTKL;

 

4.   Be submitted in person, by mail, by e-mail or by facsimile;

 

5.   Be sufficiently specific to enable the Board to ascertain which records are being requested; and

 

6.   Be from a person who is a legal resident of the United States.

 

 

B.        While verbal requests may be fulfilled by the Board, a requestor cannot pursue the relief and remedies provided under the RTKL unless the request is in writing.  [65 P.S. § 67.702].  Accordingly, the Board requests that all RTKL requests be in writing.

 

C.         RTKL requests should be made on the form available at the website of the Office of Open Records, at: http://openrecords.state.pa.us.

 

D.        The regular business hours of the Board’s RTKL Office are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.  Any RTKL request received by the RTKL Office after the close of regular business hours shall be deemed to have been received by the office on the following business day.

 

 

II.      RESPONSES TO RTKL REQUESTS

 

The AORO may respond by providing a requester with access to inspect a record electronically or as otherwise maintained by the Board, either: (1) by providing access in the office of the Board; (2) by 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 Board’s written notice to the requester granting, denying or partially granting and partially denying access to a record.  The Board 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 below), the RTKL requires that the Board respond to an RTKL request within five (5) business days. 

 

Please note: For purposes of determining the end of the five (5) business day period, the day that a RTKL request is received is not counted.  The first day of the five (5) day period is the Board’s next business day.

 

A.              Interim Responses.

 

The Board must provide a final response to a RTKL request within five (5) business days unless one (1) or more specific conditions are satisfied and the AORO gives the requester written notice that additional time will be required.  [65 P.S. § 67.902].  That notice is referred to as an “interim response.”

 

The AORO may send an interim response if any of the following applies:

 

1.   The RTKL request requires redaction of a public record;

 

2.   The RTKL request requires retrieval of a public record from a remote location;

 

3.   A response within five (5) business days cannot be accomplished due to bona fide staffing limitations;

 

4.   A legal review is necessary to determine whether the record requested is subject to access under the RTKL;

 

5.   The requester has not complied with the Board’s policies regarding access to public records;

 

6.   The requester has not complied with a demand for prepayment of fees, which are required to fulfill the RTKL and which are estimated to exceed one hundred dollars ($100.00); further, if prepayment of fees is required by the Board, 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

 

7.   The extent and nature of the request precluded 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 five (5) business day period; (2) state that the request is being reviewed and the reason for the review; (3) provide an estimate of applicable fees owed when the record becomes available; and (4) state a reasonable date that a response is expected to be provided.  This date must not be more than thirty (30) calendar days from the end of the five (5) business day period.

 

If the date of an expected response is in excess of the thirty (30) days following the five (5) days allowed for in Section 901 [65 P.S. § 67.901], 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 (3) possible final responses.  Either the request is: (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 Board will issue a final written response that will include an explanation of the procedure for the requester to appeal, if the requester chooses to do so.  The written denial will also set forth the specific reasons for the denial, including citation of supporting legal authority, if any exist.  If the denial is the result of a determination that the record requested is exempt from disclosure, the specific reasons for the Board’s determination shall be included.  [65 P.S. § 67.903].

 

C.              Redaction.

 

The Board will not deny access to a record based upon the fact that portions of the record are not public records and, therefore, not subject to disclosure.  However, be advised that the Board will redact the portions that are not public records and produce the portions that are public records.  [65 P.S. § 67.706].

 

D.              Access.

 

The Board may provide a requester with access to inspect a record electronically or as otherwise maintained by the Board, either: (1) by providing access in the offices of the Board; (2) by sending a copy to the requester; or (3) by notifying the requester that the record is available through publicly accessible electronic means.

 

The Board has the discretion to determine the building(s) and room(s) that will be utilized to provide a requester with access to the Board’s public records.  The selection of the building(s) and room(s) for access to the Board’s public records is a matter within the discretion of the AORO.

 

The Board 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 currently exists.  If a public record only exists in one (1) medium, the Board is not required to convert that public record to another medium, except that if the public record is only available in electronic form, the Board will print out the record on paper if the requester so requests.

 

Please be advised that the Board 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 Board does not currently do so.  [65 P.S. § 67.705].

 

E.              Duplication of Public Records.

 

The Board may in its discretion contract for duplication services and require the requester to pay the applicable rate.

 

 

III.     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, where it will be assigned to an Appeals Officer.  This appeal must be filed within fifteen (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 grounds stated by the agency for denying the request.  The appeal shall be sent to:

 

The Commonwealth Office of Open Records

Commonwealth Keystone Building

400 North Street, Plaza Level

Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225

Phone:  (717) 346-9903

E-mail: openrecords@pa.gov

 

 

A person, other than the Board or the requester, with a direct interest in the record that is subject to an appeal, has fifteen (15) days following actual knowledge of the appeal, but no later than the date 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 Board’s position in the appeal.  The Appeals Officer may, but needs not, grant the request.

 

For further information on appeals, it is suggested that a requester review the website of the Office of Open Records at http://openrecords.state.pa.us.

 

  

IV.  FEES

 

Applicable fees to be charged by the Board 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 two fees for Commonwealth agencies: Duplication, 65 P.S. §67.1307(b) and Enhanced Electronic Access (an agency may establish user fees, subject to approval by the Office of Open Records), 65 P.S. §67.1307 (e).

 

The fees for duplication are established by the Office of Open Records, as posted on its website at http://openrecords.state.pa.us. The Board will charge a maximum of twenty-five cents ($.25) per page for duplication and currently does not have a fee for enhanced electronic access.

 

 B.      Specialized Fees

 

1.  The Board will charge no more than five dollars ($5) per copy for certified copies, when requested by the requester.

 

2.  The Board will charge the actual cost for postage, facsimile/microfiche or other media, as well as for specialized documents.

 

3.  Special rules apply to fees for transcripts of administrative proceedings:

 

(i)     Prior to an adjudication becoming “final, binding and non-appealable,” transcripts may be requested through an agency, however the stenographer or court reporter is permitted to charge the regular fee for this service.

 

(ii)   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 up to $.25 per page will be charged.

 

C.       Reasonable and Necessarily Incurred Costs

 

As expressly provided by 65 P.S. §67.1307(g), the Board has the authority to charge requesters reasonable fees for necessarily incurred costs.  The Board 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 the record to see whether the requested records are public records that are subject to production.

 

If the estimated fees that are required to fulfill the RTKL request exceed one hundred ($100), it may be necessary for the requester to pay the estimated amount in advance, either by certified check or by ordinary check, which must first have cleared to be considered received by the Board.  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 within the specified time, the Board is not required to produce the records requested.

 

All applicable fees must be paid in order to receive access to the record requested. [65 P.S. § 67.901].