WHO IS SUBJECT TO THE LAW: Agencies That Must Comply
Commonwealth Agencies: Any office, department, authority or other parts of the executive branch, state-affiliated entities, independent agencies, and includes the Governor, Attorney General, Auditor General and the Treasury Department.
Local Agencies: Any political subdivision, intermediate unit, or charter, public trade or vocational school [or] any local, intergovernmental, regional or municipal agency, authority, council, board commission or similar governmental entity.
Legislative Agencies: The Senate, House of Representatives and many committees and commissions like the Capitol Preservation Committee, the IRRC, Center for Rural Pennsylvania, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, and Legislative Audit Advisory Commission to name a few. For a complete list, see Section 102.
Judicial Agencies: Any entity or office of the unified judicial system, like Magisterial District Judges
WHAT IS COVERED BY THE LAW: Records, not Questions
Make sure when you file a RTK request, you are seeking records and not just asking questions. The law governs release of records.
A record is defined as “any information regardless of its physical form or character that documents a transaction or activity of an agency AND is created, received, or retained pursuant to law OR in connection with a transaction, business or activity of an agency.”
Records can take many forms, including papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, film or sound recordings, information stored or maintained electronically and a data-processed or image-processed documents. Note that e-mails can also be a form of public records, subject to any exceptions.
EXCEPTIONS: Protects Certain Information From Disclosure
The law contains 30 exceptions, cited in Section 708, that permit an Agency to withhold records. An Agency may deny release of a record if it falls within one of the 30 exceptions designed to protect information that is confidential or may jeopardize safety or investigations. Types of records that can be withheld include records related to personal or public security, DNA/RNA records, autopsy records, social security numbers, personal financial information, personal email addresses, marital status, identity of a covert law enforcement officer, home address of judges or law enforcement, confidential source records, victim information.