Open Records http://wesa.fm en The Impact of the Open Records Law, Five Years Later http://wesa.fm/post/impact-open-records-law-five-years-later <p>Five years ago Pennsylvania's Open Records law was changed, with the promise of ensuring more information would be made more easily available to the public. The new law is generally seen as a positive for the Commonwealth, but open records officials and some people who use the law see room for improvement.</p><p>Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter, Rich Lord, says, “When the new law took effect&nbsp;in the beginning of&nbsp;2009, there was an opening up,&nbsp;there was a feeling in&nbsp;agencies that, 'hey now the presumption is that I've got&nbsp;to give it over, so I may as well give it over' that has gradually shifted over the last five years. Agencies have been looking, I think, or at least&nbsp;focusing less on that presumption of openness than on the 30 exemptions in the law. Agencies have appeared to view the law in recent years as a tool for coming up with reasons not to disclose rather than a requirement to disclose or an encouragement to disclose." Fri, 14 Mar 2014 18:24:06 +0000 Essential Pittsburgh 25858 at http://wesa.fm The Impact of the Open Records Law, Five Years Later Five Years After A Major Change, How Open Is Pennsylvania's Open Records Law? http://wesa.fm/post/five-years-after-major-change-how-open-pennsylvanias-open-records-law <p>Five years ago, Pennsylvania’s open records law was changed with the promise of ensuring more information would be more easily available to the public.</p><p>Records requests have gone up, and the new law is seen, overall, as a positive for the commonwealth, but open records officials and some people who use the law see room for improvement.&nbsp;</p><p>Before the change in the open records law, all records were presumed closed unless the requester could prove why they should be open. Now, with the new law, all records are presumed open unless the requestee can prove otherwise. This has resulted in a spike in requests from across the commonwealth.</p><p> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 07:30:00 +0000 Deanna Garcia 25755 at http://wesa.fm Five Years After A Major Change, How Open Is Pennsylvania's Open Records Law? Steel City Codefest Shows the Potential for Open Data http://wesa.fm/post/steel-city-codefest-shows-potential-open-data <p>Pittsburgh's second <a href="http://www.steelcitycodefest.org/">Steel City Codefest</a>&nbsp;is almost here. The second annual 24-hour technology competition&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">aims to create relevant and useful apps for the Pittsburgh area. </span></p> Tue, 04 Feb 2014 20:34:14 +0000 Marnie Schleicher 23785 at http://wesa.fm Steel City Codefest Shows the Potential for Open Data Right to Know Law Could Be Less Important with #OpenPgh http://wesa.fm/post/right-know-law-could-be-less-important-openpgh <p>Pittsburgh plans to join 19 other American cities and counties in releasing city data for public use online. As the city works out the details of how this initiative will take shape, they’re <a href="https://docs.google.com/document/d/16jIQAxABoKx6FXYUFPgdy6NeQo4_R7ufKb-x4gePxNc/edit">looking for public input</a>.</p><p>Debra Lam, Mayor Peduto's pick for <a href="http://pittsburghpa.gov/mayor/executive-team/debra-lam">Chief of Innovation &amp; Performance</a> and Laura Meixell, data and analytics manager for the City of Pittsburgh, say the initial ordinance brought to city council last month is meant to change the perceptions of how Pittsburghers think about data and city disclosure of information.</p><p>“It sets the default to open.” Laura Meixell explains, “There’s a whole variety of state laws around what information is public and what isn’t, in the PA Right to Know law. And here in the city we’ve been following those rules since that legislation was enacted, but much more on the basis of, if folks asked for information we would provide it. With this [open data] legislation we’re going to&nbsp; have the chance to go ahead and be proactive, to open things up and to make things more available and useful in the short term.”</p><p>City organizations have encouraged the software community to creatively use municipal data, even before the introduction of this legislation, through <a href="http://http://steelcitycodefest.org/">Steel City Codefest</a>. Mon, 03 Feb 2014 23:05:40 +0000 Essential Pittsburgh 23834 at http://wesa.fm Right to Know Law Could Be Less Important with #OpenPgh PA's State-Related Universities Defend Open Records Status http://wesa.fm/post/pas-state-related-universities-defend-open-records-status <p>Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities are arguing they should continue to receive special treatment under the commonwealth’s open records law.<br /><br />State lawmakers are working on an update to the government transparency law last revised in 2008, which largely exempts Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.<br /><br />Valerie Harrison, general counsel for Lincoln University, says additional oversight would be cumbersome.<br /> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 21:37:45 +0000 Mary Wilson 18501 at http://wesa.fm Lawmakers Urge Open Records Reforms for State-Related Universities http://wesa.fm/post/lawmakers-urge-open-records-reforms-state-related-universities <div id="leadership_content"><p>Pennsylvania's state-related universities have received mostly flat funding from the commonwealth for the second year running. With the struggle for their state aid long settled, some lawmakers are noting a tangential issue has been overshadowed: the level of transparency at the schools.</p> Wed, 03 Jul 2013 11:38:36 +0000 Mary Wilson 12488 at http://wesa.fm State-Related Universities Raise Concerns Over Transparency Proposals http://wesa.fm/post/state-related-universities-raise-concerns-over-transparency-proposals <p>One key question at the heart of a push for more transparency at Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities may keep legislative proposals in park for some time.<br><br>Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln are all largely exempt from the state’s open records law, while Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities are held to the standard.<br><br>Proposals to get rid of the exemption have been proposed in the House and Senate. The universities have raised concerns or outright opposition to the plans.<br> Tue, 28 May 2013 01:26:09 +0000 Mary Wilson 10292 at http://wesa.fm Open Records Chief Calls Charter Schools Scofflaws http://wesa.fm/post/open-records-chief-calls-charter-schools-scofflaws <div id="leadership_content"><p>The head of the state's Office of Open Records is pointing a finger at public charter schools for being the "cancer" of the state's Right-to-Know law.</p><p>The testimony comes as lawmakers are in the midst of an effort to tweak the state's five-year-old law, which lets citizens request government records starting with the presumption that all such documents are public, putting the burden of proof on agencies, not citizens.</p> Fri, 17 May 2013 22:01:40 +0000 Mary Wilson 9778 at http://wesa.fm In Open Records Debate, a Case for Being Less Business-Friendly http://wesa.fm/post/open-records-debate-case-being-less-business-friendly <p>The same senator who sponsored legislation creating the 5-year-old Office of Open Records has drafted revisions to the state's Right-to-Know law - the "most critical" proposed change being one that would keep commercial users from exploiting the law on the cheap.<br><br>Local government officials have said for years the passage of the Right-to-Know law has resulted in a tidal wave of records requests.<br> Tue, 14 May 2013 10:34:06 +0000 Mary Wilson 9500 at http://wesa.fm