Pennsylvania Open Records Solutions
Will You Be Ready for the New Right To Know Law Going Into Effect In January 2009?
Pennsylvania’s new Right To Know law (Act 3 of 2008) fundamentally changes the structure of the state’s open records law in favor of public access. Agencies now have the burden to establish why a record should not be released for viewing or copying. The old law put the burden on a requester to establish why the record was public. In addition, the new law establishes strict timetables for responding to requests. All state and local government entities must prepare now for the sweeping changes the law will bring to productivity, compliance requirements, records storage methods and efficiency of records access.
According to the Executive Director, Office of Open Records, the primary way entities can prepare is to institute a good records management policy. This means understanding your records and your retention guidelines, taking measures not to retain records longer than necessary and appointing the right person in your office to the job of open-records officer.
LRW Solutions Group Can Help You Get Ready
LRW Solutions Group can help you make these vital preparations to comply with the new law. Your management and staff are busy with daily operations and don’t have the time to dedicate to the tasks inherent in these preparations. LRW will work with staff and supervisors to develop a sound records management plan and implement products while minimizing the disruption to daily operations. Representative service offerings include:
- Full records inventory - A complete records inventory forms the baseline for your records management policy. You need to know the records you retain on a daily basis and why.
- Retention and Disposition Schedule - LRW will develop a schedule for retention and disposition of all records identified as official. County agencies’ schedules will comply with PHMC’s County Records Manual. We will develop a new schedule for other agencies.
- Email policy and email management plan - Email records are governed by the same retention requirements as paper records. We will establish a policy for your agency for the retention, storage and retrieval of emails that are deemed public records.
- Regulations, policies and procedures of the agency relating to the act - The new law requires every agency to post its own policies and procedures in the office and on an existing web site. LRW will develop this document for you.
- Request tracking mechanism and compliance reporting - Reports will be required from every Pennsylvania agency at the end of 2009. LRW will help your open-records officer establish a way to track all Right to Know requests and implement a compliant reporting mechanism.
- Implementation and training - LRW staff can assist in the implementation of all new policies and procedures and train staff.