open bookOpen Records Law in Pennsylvania

"This is really a change in the culture of governance in Pennsylvania," said Barry Kauffman, director of Pennsylvania Common Cause. "In too many cases, employees and officials of government agencies had an attitude that they own the government records instead of just being the caretakers of the government records."

After many years of secrecy and obstruction of the public's rights to know about their government, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a new Open Records law in 2008. The law takes effect January 1, 2009. Many groups advocated for the law including: the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition, the League of Women Voters Pennsylvania, Democracy Rising PA, Rock the Capital and Common Cause Pennsylvania.

New Pa. open records are key to public access

Record Tracker - Searchable data: Schools, crime and more

Create an informational project about the new law for the general public:

*Make a tri fold pamphlet that gives step by step directions for making a request.

*Make an 8"x10" poster - What are the actions to take if a request for information is denied
or if no response is given to a request for information.

*A webpage that explains the citizen's rights and how to use the law.

*A website regarding the policies in your school district or county regarding records

*Give a multimedia presentation regarding the Open Records Law.

*Make a digital video project that demonstrates making a successful request.

*Make an appropriate request to your school district, local government, county government or state government regarding an item of spending that is important to you.

Does the governmental body comply with the new law?

What do you learn from the response?

Proof the project. It is funny how speling errors and typeos sneak in to the bets work. smiling icon
Make Your Own Answer Sheet Form using Word Processing


Essay Extension:

Select one of the exceptions to the law. Advocate for it or against it.

Identify a current or recent controversy where the citizen's right to know has been important.
How would/will the new law impact the outcome?


“This is sweeping, fundamental change in the way government documents are stored, turning the presumption upside down and shifting the burden from the citizen to the government,” said Senator John Pippy. “It says that unless there is a legitimate reason to keep records private, they must be made available to the public, and citizens should not have to jump through hoops to see them.”


The Pennsylvania General Assembly - Find Legislation by. Public Interest Guide to Pennsylvania Redistricting
PA Sunshine Act - public meetings Common Cause - Open records
Pennsylvania Contracts online Make a Crossword Puzzle of Government Vocabulary crossword puzzle bullet
Center for Ethics - National Conference of State Legislatures Citizen's Guide to Pennsylvania Local Government
Who Represents You Project Center for Politics & Public Affairs @ Franklin and Marshall College
Pennsylvania Projects Citizen Rights Who Represents You? Pennsylvania Charters PA County Government
Ballot Access Running for Office Government by the numbers Pennsylvania Facts puzzle Cities of Pennsylvania
Make a PA fact hunt Map PA Waters Pennsylvania Geology Evaluate Legislator PA Flag Facts
Pa map & facts activity Amend the Constitution Dig into lobbying in Pa Music Artists of PA Government of PA.
Exceptional Women of PA Visual Artists of PA Coppedge activity Sing PA Facts Government's Demographics
Honor a Suffragist Look into your Community's History Evaluate government website Consumer Protection Project Reforming Gov. Persuasive Essay
Life Expectancy in PA State of the Union Fact Check Exploring Population Density Who gets fines? PA Founding Fathers

Internet Hunts / Nature / Computers / Puzzles & Projects / Pennsylvania Projects / History & Civics Studies / Site map / Home

Updated 8/2012, posted 12/2008 by Cynthia J. O'Hora, released to the public domain

tree iconSave a tree - use a digital answer format - Save frequently as you work. I do not like losing my work. You will not like it either. Put your name and the date in a header. Bad things happen. Retain a copy of your work on your computer. Submit your assignment via a class electronic drop box or email attachment.

Tech Tip: Working in a group or in two different places like the library & home? You do not have to be physically together to work together. gold starWatch Google Docs video TAI - How could you use free, Google Docs to do a project? How would this facilitate group projects?

Aligned with the following Pa Academic Standards - Reading, Writing Speaking, History, Civics and Government, Mathematics, Civics, Science and Technology. Aligned with the National Standards for Civics and Government