Right to Know

The Impact of the Open Records Law, Five Years Later

Mar 14, 2014
Jenni C / Flickr

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.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter, Rich Lord, says, “When the new law took effect in the beginning of 2009, there was an opening up, there was a feeling in agencies that, 'hey now the presumption is that I've got 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 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."