Keep Office of Open Records Independent
The Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition Board of Directors has issued a unanimous statement protesting the characterization of the executive director position as “at will,” pointing out that such an interpretation subverts the critical independent nature of that office. We have asked Governor Wolf to rescind Erik Arneson's termination. We hope that this unfortunate matter will be resolved quickly.
Our services are free to everyone ... But YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS enable us to meet expenses hosting this website and traveling across the state to provide informational sessions.
Your membership donation is tremendously helpful to us, and it's tax-deductible for you.
If you are interested in open government, please join the PaFOIC today. You can join us online right now for less than the cost of one tank of gas.
PaFOIC hosts public forumsThe Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition welcomes invitations to present informational sessions on the new open records law across the state. Contact us for more details.
Pennsylvanians have aright to know.Pennsylvania’s open-records law — enacted January 1, 2009 — greatly expands public access to a wide array of government records.
The law accomplishes three major things:
- For the first time, establishes that all records kept by local and state government are presumed to be open to the public, with some exceptions. No longer is access restricted to just “accounts, vouchers or contracts” or “minutes, orders or decisions.”
- For the first time, puts the burden of proving why a record should not be released on government agencies. No longer do citizens who are denied records have to prove why they should have them.
- For the first time, there is an independent agency charged with arbitrating open records disputes. No longer do citizens have to go to court when they feel their request has been unjustly denied. The state’s new Office of Open Records, under the direction of executive director Terry Mutchler, will hear appeals and issue rulings when there are disputes.
About the PaFOIC
The Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition works to give all Pennsylvanians access to their federal, state and local governments, their records and their proceedings.
We believe that such access results in the most responsive, accountable and effective government, stimulating civic involvement and trust in government.
We seek to help all Pennsylvanians fully realize their rights and carry out their responsibilities as citizens in our democracy.
- Education: Through seminars and publications, we educate citizens, groups and government officials about the importance of open government to democracy and how they can use their rights to get public records.
- Law reform: We monitor proposed state and federal laws, regulations and court decisions. We provide information to state officials and encourage discussion of open government improvements in Pennsylvania. To the extent allowed by our nonprofit status, we support reforms affecting public records.
- Legal support: We provide resource material to citizens or groups who encounter difficulty in obtaining public records. In open government cases of state-wide importance, we help citizens obtain vigorous legal representation.
The Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition was founded in 2005. Consider this website our “virtual” office. As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in its formative years, we are run by volunteers, and do not yet have paid staff or office of phone number.
The best way to get in touch with us is through this website, using our free online Pennsylvania Open Government Forum. You'll also find our mailing address on the bottom of every page, along with a link to our Contact Us page.
WE’RE ALL ABOUT DISCLOSURE
The coalition is an open book: The names of our officers and board members, as well as our articles of incorporation, minutes of our meetings and financial statements are posted on our Who We Are page. Information about us may also be accessed at GuideStar, the leading source of information on U.S. nonprofits.
Local governments compile hundreds of thousands of public records every year. The more you can be specific about what you want, the quicker officials can provide it.
And remember: The open records law provides you with access to documents ... Not to information.
Ask questions before you make a Right to Know request, so you know what documents to ask for.
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