PA Office of Open Records Releases Agency Website Review Report - Here is How the LBPD Compared

LITITZ BOROUGH – On August 31, 2021, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR) released its 2021 Agency Website Review report, which analyzed the Right-to-Know law request information provided on local and state government websites across Pennsylvania. While the LBPD was not an agency reviewed in the sampling, which consisted of 135 agencies across the Commonwealth, the LBPD is providing information on how the agency performs against the criteria evaluated by the OOR in their report. As stated in the OOR report, “an agency dedicated to transparency should use its website to provide comprehensive, accessible information on how to submit a RTKL request. “

Meeting legislative requirements:

Section 504(b) of the RTKL requires that certain basic information be posted on an agency’s website if one exists. Below is the verbatim language from the law:

“Posting. – The following information shall be posted at each agency and, if the agency maintains an internet website, on the agency’s website:

LBPD webpage compliance Statute sub-section Statutory language/requirement
                        Yes (1) Contact information for the open records officer
                        Yes (2) Contact information for the Office of Open Records or other applicable appeals officer
                        Yes (3) A form which may be used to file a request
                        Yes (4) Regulations, policies and procedures of the agency related to this act

Providing enhanced RTKL information:

The OOR report outlined best practices for RTKL websites. Below is a list of those best practices and the LBPD efforts to meet or exceed them:

  Best practice LBPD effort
 1  Easy to locate. Finding where RTKL information is located should not be an arduous task. The RTKL request information should be linked to a homepage, either in a button or banner, or in a drop-down menu that is easily noticed and user-friendly. Searchable via search engine and via search function on website and easily found using common sense terms that apply to the RTKL process. The LBPD RTKL information is located under the “Public Info” drop-down on the agency webpage, which is easily noticed. The LBPD RTK information can be found in a simple search engine search
 2  Comprehensive information for the AORO. The name, phone number, email address, mailing address, and fax number should be displayed. The LBPD AORO information contained in the dedicated Open Records page on the agency website contains all of these pieces of information.
 3 A resource email account for the AORO. Using a resource email account, versus the AORO’s unique email address, helps prevent missed statutory deadlines in the event that the AORO is out-of-the-office or leaves the agency. The LBPD has a dedicated resource email of 
 4 Printable and electronic request forms. Scanners are not in all households; an agency should provide for electronic submissions of RTKL request forms, as well as a printable version. In addition to providing the standard RTKL request form on the agency webpage (and in the agency lobby), the LBPD has an electronic webform which can be completed by the user and automatically submitted electronically without additional steps.
 5 Provide current contact information for the OOR with clear explanation of the role and timeline of appeal. The LBPD provides comprehensive information on the PA Open Records law, including updated and accurate information about the OOR and the appeals process.
 6 Include links to frequently requested items. This can be either the actual records, or if misdirected, suggest where to obtain those records. The LBPD webpage contains information which is commonly of community interest. Information which is not preemptively posted on the agency webpage can be requested through the RTKL process.
 7 Include regulations, policies, and procedures related to the RTKL. If these exist, they should be included on the webpage. The LBPD General Order (General Order 4.11.1) is posted on the agency webpage for instant public access.
 8 All police departments should include RTKL request info. If the police department utilizes a local municipality’s AORO, the police department’s website (or webpage) should clearly explain that and include a link to that information. The LBPD operates an open records process
 9 All the above should be provided on one webpage. Each agency should have a centralized one-stop location for all RTKL request information. The LBPD webpage contains all RTKL information in a centralized one-stop location.

Related resources:

LBPD Open Records policy (General Order 4.11.1)

LBPD centralized open records (Right-to-Know law) webpage

PA Office of Open Records Agency Website Review Report

PA Office of Open Records information on website review report

Media contact: