Begin Main Content Area

Right to Know Law Policy


 The Department of Banking and Securities (“Department”), pursuant to the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, 65 P.S.§§ 67.101 - 67.3104 (“RTKL”), sets forth this policy governing requests for copies of public records within its possession, custody or control.

  

I.                   Definitions and what constitutes a public record

 

All of the definitions set forth in the RTKL are incorporated by reference into this policy. See 65 P.S. § 67.102.

 

     The definition of “public record” excludes records that are specifically exempt from disclosure under other state laws, such as section 302.A of the Department of Banking and Securities Code, 7 P.S. § 733-302.A. This provision broadly prohibits the Department from disclosing most of the records in its possession related to depository institutions and non-depository licensees, including examination reports, licensing and chartering applications, consumer complaints, investigative materials, and supporting documentation for applications.

Similarly, the Pennsylvania Securities Act of 1972 requires the Department to treat as confidential “information which is filed with or obtained by the [D]epartment and which is not generally available to the public.”  70 P.S. § 1-601(c). This law also contains provisions that categorize certain administrative files of the Department as either public or non-public, 70 P.S. § 1-603, and authorizes the promulgation of regulations that set up a mechanism by which members of the public may access the documents that are public. These regulations specifically state that documents relating to investigations and examinations are not public. 10 Pa. Code § 603.031 (d).

 

 

II.                Submitting a RTKL Request to the Department

 

A.    Open Records Officer. The Department has designated Mary Beth S. Stringent as its Agency Open Records Office (“AORO”) to respond to RTKL requests. Her contact information is as follow:

 

In Person: Department of Banking and Securities

17 North Second Street

Suite 1500

Harrisburg, PA 17101

 

Fax: 717-724-6912

 

Email: rtklbnkg@pa.gov

 

B.     Form of the request. The RTKL requires a written request to be submitted to the AORO. See 65 P.S. § 67.703. It is permissible to use the Standard Right-to-Know Law Request Form that may be found as follows:

https://www.openrecords.pa.gov/Documents/RTKL/RTKRequestForm.docx

If a requester chooses not to use the standard request form, the request should clearly indicate that it is seeking records under the RTKL. To allow the Department to locate requested records and determine whether those records are public, requests should be specific and concise and clearly identify as precisely as possible the records sought. See 65 P.S. § 67.703. Requesters should clearly indicate the preferred method of access – paper copies, electronic copies, or by inspection. Requesters should retain a copy of the request for their file, as a copy of the request is necessary, should a requester appeal the Department’s response.

C.     Receipt of the request.  The Department is deemed to have received the request on the next business day

that the AORO receives the request. See 65 P.S. § 67.901. The Department defines its business day to exclude Saturdays and Sundays and any weekday on which the Department is closed for business, with its regular business hours being from 8:30 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. Any request that the Department receives after the close of regular business hours shall be deemed to have been received on the next business day.

 

III.             Agency Response

 

A.    Time for response. The Department has 5 business days to respond to a request for records under the RTKL. If the Department does not respond within that time, the request is considered “deemed denied,” and a requester’s appeal rights commence. The Department is permitted to take an additional 30 calendar days to respond to any request for the reasons set forth in the RTKL, if it informs the requester in writing about the extension and the reason for it. See 65 P.S. § 67.902.

 

B.     Requester’s agreement to extend the response period beyond 30 days. The requester may agree, in writing, to extend the Department’s response period for a specified period beyond 30 days. See 65 P.S. § 67.902(b)(2).

 

C.     Trade secrets. If a request involves records provided to the Department by a third party and the third party previously provided the Department with a written statement that the record contains a trade secret or confidential proprietary information, the Department shall provide notice to the third party. See 65 P.S. § 67.707(b).

 

D.    Final response. The Department shall make a final written response in which it may grant the request, partially deny it, or deny it in its entirety, or state the reason why the request cannot be fulfilled. If the Department fails to issue a response within the applicable response period, the request is deemed denied. See 65 P.S. § 67.901.

 

1.      Granting access to records. The Department may grant a request for records by issuing a response: (1) granting access to inspect records during the Department’s regular business hours; (2) sending copies of the records to the requester; or (3) by notifying the requester that the records are available on the Department website or other publicly accessible electronic means. See 65 P.S. §§ 67.701(a), 704.

 

2.      Denying or partially denying access to records. To the extent the Department denies a request for records, through redaction or otherwise, or cannot fulfill the request, the Department will respond in writing. The response will describe the requested records, inform the requester that the Department does not possess the responsive records or, if the records are exempt from public access, provide a citation to the relevant legal basis for withholding the requested records. The response will set forth the procedure to appeal the denial. See 65 P.S. § 67.903.

 

E.     Fees. The Department will charge fees consistent with the RTKL Fee Structure, available at http://www.openrecords.pa.gov/RTKL/FeeStructure.cfm.

 

IV.             RTKL Appeals

 

A.    Generally. To challenge the denial, partial denial, or deemed denial of a request for Department records, an appeal may be filed to the Office of Open Records (“OOR”) using the OOR appeal form, available at:  http://www.openrecords.pa.gov/Appeals/AppealForm.cfm,

       or by contacting the OOR at the following address:

 

Office of Open Records

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

333 Market St., 16th Floor

Harrisburg, PA 17101-2234

openrecords@pa.gov

 

B.    Requirements of an appeal. All appeals must be filed within 15 business days of the mailing date of the Department’s response. All appeals must be in writing; must state the grounds upon which the requester asserts that the requested records are public records; must address any grounds stated by the Department for denying the request; and must include a copy of the request and the Department’s response, if any. See 65 P.S. § 67.1101(a)(1).

 

V.                Department Notification of Third Parties on Appeal

 

If records affect a legal or security interest of an employee of the Department; contain confidential, proprietary or trademarked records of a person or business entity; or are held by a contractor or vendor, the Department must notify such parties of the appeal immediately and provide proof of that notice to the OOR within 7 business days from the date of the OOR’s Official Notice of Appeal. Such notice must be made by (1) providing a copy of all documents included with the appeal to the OOR; and (2) advising that interested persons may request to participate in the appeal. See 65 P.S. § 67.1101(c).

 

VI.             Record Retention

 

Commonwealth agencies such as the Department are subject to a record retention and disposition schedule that mandates destruction of records on a regular basis. Therefore, depending on the type of record that is being requested, or its age, the record may no longer exist.

 

The record retention and disposition schedule is a public document that is available upon request.

 

 

VII.          Additional Information about the RTKL

 

Additional information about the RTKL, the request process, and the appeal process is available on the OOR website at https://www.openrecords.pa.gov.

 
 4/8/2021