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LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS

OF RADNOR TOWNSHIP
P.O. Box 7113, St. Davids, PA 19087

League of Women Voters of Radnor Township


Citizen Initiative for Transparency: Public Documents Audit

Final Report
June 4, 2009

Background
Pennsylvania’s new Right to Know Law, Act 3 of 2008, took effect on January 1,
2009. This was a most auspicious time to examine transparency in public documents the
following reasons:

• Until January 1, 2009, Pennsylvania had one of the worst open records laws in
the country. The new law states that all governmental records are presumed open but for
thirty (30) exceptions. An Office of Open Records also has been formed to provide
advisory opinions to agencies and requesters.

• In July 2008, Delaware County Court issued a 30-page opinion and order
strongly in favor of Judy Sherry, a citizen who requested documents that had been
withheld at an April 10, 2007 public school board meeting by the Radnor Township
School District. Judge Robert C. Wright, Jr., included statements such as the following in
his opinion, “The idea of being stingy when it comes to recognizing a citizen’s rights is
repugnant to our system of government. Indeed it turns a right to a privilege, which may
be granted or denied at the whim of those in positions of power.” As of this date, the
lawsuit is ongoing.

•On January 2, 2009 a local reporter used the U.S. Mail to submit the same
requests as Ms. Sherry to the Radnor Township School District. Although acting under
the new Right to Know law, the District told the local paper that it never received the
request more than two weeks after the mailing.

• A Radnor resident member, Christina Perrone, has used the new Right to Know
Law to obtain records such as itemized statements from township employees, bids for
contracts, supplemental pay, post-employment benefits, and bonuses. After the Board of
Commissioners reviewed the data, the township manager was dismissed. A firm has
recently been hired to conduct a forensic audit.

• Since the new Right to Know Law has gone into effect, the Main Line Suburban
Life featured a two-series, front-page, special report written by Sam Strike on the law and
its impact on Main Line residents. The Philadelphia Inquirer has also included a
commentary by Thomas Hylton encouraging agencies to put public data on the web and
numerous front-page articles including one on April 10, 2009 that cites Terry Mutchler,
executive director of PA Office of Public Records, faulting Governor Rendell for his lack
of openness. On May 25, 2009, Dan Hardy highlighted open records in his front-page
article in which he reported the PA Office of Open Records had ruled that the state’s
largest nonprofit charter school must make public a range of information about pay and
profits going to its for-profit management company.

Given the above considerations and LWV of Radnor’s commitment to openness of


governmental proceedings and accountability in functions of the Township, a grant from
the League of Women Voters Education Fund prompted an audit of public documents.

Purpose and Scope of Audit

The scope of our initiative was the local level - Radnor Township School District and
Radnor Township. The purpose of the public documents audit was to determine how local
government agencies complied with requests that were sent by different individuals of
different ages from different geographic locations and by different means (fax, in-person,
U.S. Mail). For record keeping purposes, no requests were submitted electronically. In
addition, four requests were made to parallel those of the Delaware County League of
Women Voters. All requests were designed to bring to light areas for financial
consideration or to gather information on a variety of topics of community interest.

Two requests were made to the State of Pennsylvania Department of Health. These were
made to gather information specific to the Radnor Township School District in its
reporting and reimbursement for mandated dental services. Requests to the Township
were limited in number given the unforeseen transition of the township manager.

Websites were checked prior to making requests to determine if the documents were
already available. Before making requests regarding procurement cards and
compensation packages of the superintendent and township manager, questions were
drafted for review and feedback by Melissa Bevan Melewsky, Media Law Counsel of the
Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. She indicated that most financial records are not
subject to the exceptions to the Right to Know Law. She also stated that such
information has been granted to others both under the old and new laws.

The appeal process was not the subject of our audit. Rather, once requests were filed,
only one follow-up call and/or visit was made to pursue information as requested.

Know the Law

Copies of Pennsylvania’s New Right to Know Law and a Citizens’ Guide were
downloaded from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records website. The guide provided
a basic overview of the law and also included a phone number (717) 346-9903 in addition
to their website openrecoreds@state.pa.us for further information. On March 20, 2009,
the site provided such information as frequently asks questions and answers, appeals
process interim guidelines, forms, fee structures, registered open records officers and
advisory opinions. As of May 30, 2009, the website was revised to include Tips from the
Executive Director. (Although only two tips are current available, the information
provided and future topics are most pertinent.) The Office of Open Records includes a
link to the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition www.openrecordspa.org that
provides a quick guide to the law, month-by-month determinations, and further
information about training and informational sessions throughout the State.

The internet provided further insight regarding specific information related to Radnor
Township and the Radnor Township School District. Using the search box on the home
page for Radnor Township, one is linked to forms, policies, and resolutions regarding the
law. The form includes a fee schedule, the name of the open records officer, contact
information (fax, phone, e-mail, and mailing address) and the requester certification
(signature attesting to status as a legal resident of the United States and knowledge of fee
schedule and financial responsibilities associated with the request).

The website of the Radnor Township School District has evolved from the beginning of
our audit in March to the end of May. Initially, it was accessible under the “Hot Topics”
link on the side menu. The “Hot Topics” route was questioned by a member of the public
who suggested a clearer path. Recently, a search box has been added that provides a
more direct link to the forms, policies, and related links to the PA Office of Open
Records, the Right to Know Law, and Citizens RTK Guide. The same information can
also now be accessed through linking to Our District and then navigating to
Communications, Board of School Directors, or Business Administration. By navigating
through Our District, Board of School Directors, School Board Policies, and Local Board
Procedures, an eight-page policy #032 entitled Public Access to Documents can be
located. It was drafted by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and approved on
December 18, 2008.

Recruiting and Preparing Auditors

In looking for auditors, the LWV Radnor appeared to be a ready source of volunteers.
The project co-directors thus asked colleagues who were less “public” faces of the LWV
to submit inquiries. The co-directors prepared the forms and only sought individuals to
sign names and to follow-up, if necessary, with phone calls. There was no intent to
involve volunteers in the appeal process.

To broaden the audit process, one co-director participated in the Delaware County
project. Working with the Delaware County team allowed for the recruitment of
volunteers outside the District while simultaneously allowing the co-director to serve as a
requester to agencies outside of Radnor. This group also shared information gleaned from
the teleconferences. In addition, reflecting on the entire audit process prompted the
creation of the rating scale and consistent follow-up tasks across a wider media audience.

Because the members of the League of Women Voters Radnor were informed in our
January newsletter that our local League had applied for a public documents audit, there
was community knowledge that an audit may be taking place in Radnor. In fact, the
School District solicitor, through a member of the Board of School Directors, asked our
President Karen Wilson for more information about the grant the League was requesting.

Follow-up Action

It is the intent of the co-directors of the LWV Radnor Citizen Initiative for Transparency:
Public Documents Audit Grant to schedule individual meetings with representatives of
the LWV Radnor, the Right to Know Officer, and/or one or more representatives of the
administrative and governing bodies of each agency to discuss the findings of our audit.
The rating scale will be used as a basis for discussion to point out criteria in which the
agencies excel and those where improvement is needed. The findings will then be made
public to the local press and collectively with the Delaware County LWV to a wider
media audience. Representatives of the LWV will also be guests during community
information sessions held on local cable television. In the future, additional requests will
be made periodically to determine if satisfactory compliance has been maintained and
suggested improvements have become systemic.

The Public Documents Audit

Radnor Township School District

The following copies of information were requested in writing to the Radnor Township
School District on the PDF form found on the website in various ways by different
individuals.

Request 1 - Compensation Package (hand-delivered on 4/24/09 by a recently retired


teacher who is a of the Board member of the LWV Radnor)

Any and all documents related to the total compensation package for the superintendent
of schools for the fiscal year ending in June 2006. Such documents include, but are not
limited to, the agreement between the Board of School Directors and the Superintendent;
any salary increases and/or bonuses; health care programs costs including medical,
prescription dental and/or vision; costs of insurance programs and fringe benefit
programs provided to such an administrator under the terms of any administrative
contracts or the Act 93 Compensation Plan, (whichever provides greater benefit);
employer contribution to a 457 plan; allowances for car, housing, moving costs, meal
expenses, computer costs, and communication costs (individual accounts for internet
service, cell phone, fax, cable, etc.); membership dues and fees to all groups, clubs, and
organizations paid for by the District; deferred compensation such as that related to
compensatory time and carry over of unused sick, personal, and vacation days; and
severance pay.

Results: When the document was hand-delivered, it was stamped by the secretary to the
Right to Know Officer. However, it was Xeroxed only on one side. All information after
the word housing was omitted from the District’s copy of the request.
The original was date stamped and returned to the requester. At the LWV Radnor Town
Meeting on April 27, 2009, the Right to Know Officer asked the requester if she was the
one who had submitted the request. (The officer had only known the individual by her
nickname.) The requester confirmed that she was the requester. Later on April 27, 2009,
the Right to Know Officer telephoned the requester to see if it was okay to try to figure
out what was requested rather than have to get the district solicitor to go over the
questions with her. In her mind it was “so much legalese.” On May 1, 2009, the
secretary of the Right to Know Officer called the requester to tell her that all was ready
and that it would be $8.25 to cover Xeroxing costs. In response to the request, a copy of
the Employment Agreement for Superintendent of Schools entered into on March 23,
2004 was provided that included an agreement that began July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2009.
It included beginning salary ($180,000), annual increases, and merit increases as well as
compensation for other things such as moving expenses, life insurance, medical benefits,
and so on. The administrative salary and benefits program for 2002 – 2006 was also
provided that includes additional compensation for continuity, retirement, termination,
tax shelter annuity programs, fringe benefits, sick leave, vacation, holidays, tuition
assistance, professional development, liability insurance, mileage rates, and medical and
life insurance benefits upon retirement. Few, if any dollar amounts, were given with the
benefits noted. An additional document was also included in the materials provided by
the District. It was 20-page copy of the Administrative Compensation Plan for January 1,
2007 through December 31, 2009. It was paid for by the requester with the total cost
being $8.25.

Request 2 – Procurement Cards (mailed on 4/27/09 certified mail restricted delivery


from Bryn Mawr, PA to the Right to Know Officer by a male senior citizen who has
participated in community groups addressing school issues during recent years)

A list of names of individuals who have been issued procurement /credit/debit cards by
the Radnor Township School District and their activity or transaction statements for the
month of October 2008

Results: On 5/1/09 the request was dated received by the Office. On 5/1/09, the open
records officer called and asked for additional days. On 5/6/09 information was provided
to the requester who picked up the documents. The original request was dated PAID
5/5/09. It also noted that 5 copies @ .25 for a total due of $1.50. No list of names of
individuals who have been issued District procurement cards was provided. (According
to District Policy 625, A list of authorized users of procurement cards shall be
maintained in the business office and shall include employees in designated positions.)
Corporate account summaries from PNC bank were provided for twenty-five individuals
from a variety of positions. Some were central office or building administrators, others
were secretaries, teachers, food service workers, and coaches. The providers ranged from
pizza parlors and grocery stores to Amtrak and Best Western. The monthly transaction
sums ranged from $28.67 to $3,325.84.

Request 3 - Solicitor Compensation (mailed on 4/27/09 certified mail restricted delivery


from Bryn Mawr, PA to the Right to Know Officer by a male senior citizen who has
participated in community groups addressing school issues during recent years)
The disbursements for the 2007-2008 fiscal year paid by the Radnor Township School
District to the Law Firm Raffaele & Puppio, LLP.

Results: The request was received on 5/1/09. There is no note on this request regarding
an extension of time, although such does appear on the other request received on the
same day. On 5/1/09 the requester noted that he spoke to the open records officer who
asked for clarification. She asked about check stubs or billing and said that it would be
available in a couple of days. On 5/19/09, the requester called the office of the open
records and left a message. On 5/20/09, he called again and spoke to the secretary of the
officer. She told the requester tat his request would be ready in an hour or two. He
picked it up between 11:00 and 11:30 and paid $.75. The document provided was a print-
out dated 5/7/09 at 8:26. It lists purchase orders, dates, and amounts paid to the office of
Raffaelle & Puppio LLP. The total sum was $91,674.93.

Request 4 – Dental Contracts (faxed from FedEx Office, Villanova, PA on 5/1/09 to the
Right to Know Officer by a middle-aged, LWV, female, non-resident)

Any and all contracts with certified dentists or dental practices for services to school-
aged children in the public, private, and/or non-public schools of the Radnor Township
School District for the 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 school years.

Results: There was no response as of 5/31/09. After speaking with the requester by
phone and receiving verbal permission, a project co-director stopped at the office of the
Right to Know Officer on 6/3. The secretary indicated that the officer was on vacation.
She then looked through a stack and found the document received in early May (perhaps
5/4). She noted that nothing was attached to the document and that she would need to
check with the Right to Know officer on her return. The co-director noted that the
requester had been on vacation and may have been difficult to contact.

Request 5 – Disclosure information by School Board President submitted to the Radnor


Schools (mailed certified mail restricted delivery from Southeastern PA sorting center on
5/2/09 to the Right to Know Officer by a middle-aged, LWV female, non-resident of
Radnor)

Any and all documents filed by John McMeekin, member of the Radnor Township Board
of School Directors, for 2007 pursuant to Chapter 11 Ethics Standards and Financial
Disclosure of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This shall include, but not be limited
to 1104 Statement of financial interest required to be filed by a public official or public
employee.

Results: There was no response as of 5/29/09; After speaking with the requester by
phone and receiving verbal permission, a project co-director stopped at the office of the
Right to Know Officer on 6/3. The secretary indicated that the officer was on vacation.
She then looked through a stack and around the office a bit, but could find no record of
the request. She made a copy of the copies that the co-director had as well as the
certified mail receipt. On checking postal records, the envelope with the requests was
signed for on May 5, 2009. The co-director again noted that the requester had been out-
of-town and perhaps difficult to contact.

Request 6 – Disclosure information by School Administrator submitted to the Radnor


Schools (mailed certified mail restricted delivery from Southeastern PA sorting center to
the Right to Know Officer by a middle-aged, LWV female, non-resident of Radnor)

Any and all documents filed by Dr. Sandra Mangano, administrator in the Radnor
Township School District, for 2007 and 2008, pursuant to Chapter 11 Ethics Standards
and Financial Disclosure of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This shall include, but
not be limited to 1104 Statement of financial interest required to be filed by a public
official or public employee.

Results: There was no response as of 5/29/09. The same follow-up and status exists as
for Request # 7.

Request 7 – Disclosure information by Radnor School Solicitor submitted to the Radnor


Schools (mailed certified mail restricted delivery from Southeastern PA sorting center to
the Right to Know Officer by a middle-aged, LWV female, non-resident of Radnor)

Any and all documents filed by Michael Puppio, Solicitor of the Radnor Township
School District, for 2008 pursuant to Chapter 11 Ethics Standards and Financial
Disclosure of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This shall include, but not be limited
to 1104 Statement of financial interest required to be filed by a public official or public
employee.

Results: There was no response as of 5/29/09. The same follow-up and status exists as for
Request # 7.

Radnor Township

Request 8 Procurement Cards (mailed by U.S. Mail by a female, middle-aged, Radnor


LWV member)

Description: A list of names of individuals who have been issued procurement


(credit/debit) cards by Radnor Township and their activity or transaction statements for
the month of October 2008.

Results: An e-mail response was sent to the requester within twenty-four hours of her
request. The Right to Know Officer called when they copies were ready and provided an
option to have them picked up or mailed. The documents were picked-up to avoid
postage costs and $2.00 was paid to cover costs. The requester remarked that the Right to
Know Officer was very pleasant, responsive, well-organized, and appeared to be pleased
to provide the requested information. The Right to Know officer even went with the
requester to the cashier to double check that she received a receipt. The individuals with
procurement cards included the Township Manager and the Finance Director. Minimal
expenses for the month of October were recorded in the transactions that were generally
for consumable supplies such as light bulbs and paper products.

Request 9: Financial Audit (mailed by U.S. Mail by the spouse of a co-director having a
different surname than the co-director)

Reports of the independent external auditors for the fiscal years 2007 and 2008

Results: Within three working days after the request was made, the Township Right to
Know Officer emailed the requester indicating that this information was available on the
website. She indicated specifically where to find these, which were buried in annual
Financial Reports and were thus not readily found during the search that was made before
the request was forwarded.

Request 10: Parking Rental Fees (hand-delivered by co-director on 6/2/09 to the


receptionist. It was stamped by the Community Development Office 5/33/09 and put in
an envelope that was to be given to the Right to Know Officer at the conclusion of a
meeting in which she was participating.)

Any documents authorizing the payment of rental fees for parking spaces in the Wayne
Business District at the rate of $20/month.

Results: Within hours of submitting the request, the requester received a call from the
Right to Know Officer indicating that the information needed was on line. She suggested
that one could use the website and go the Finance/Budget and look under fee schedules.
By using the internet link, one could avoid the cost of copying. The Right to Know
Officer noted that when the Budget is approved, the fee schedule is part of the budget and
becomes approved as part of the larger document. She was most helpful and gracious in
her manner.

Request 11: Authorization for Billing (hand-delivered by co-director on 6/2/09 to the


receptionist. It was stamped by the Community Development Office 5/33/09 and put in
an envelope that was to be given to the Right to Know Officer at the conclusion of a
meeting in which she was participating.)

Any documents authorizing Radnor Township to bill owners in the Wayne Business
District for monies distributed to the Radnor Enhancement Community Trust.

Results: As a part of the conversation for Request 12, the Right to Know Officer gave the
requester the name of the individual who deals with the Radnor Enhancement
Community Trust. She noted that he was on vacation and would be in on Monday, June
8th. She noted that she would get back to the requester on June 9th. At that time she said
there was no document authorizing such billing. However, she related that, according to
the Township Engineer, the billing is a result of a Zoning Hearing Board decision. In the
case of five or six properties, those wishing to use the space were obligated to rent a
given number of parking spaces in a lot as a condition of use. Others voluntarily rent
spaces in the lot. An example was given of a restaurant that did not have enough parking.
Zoning Hearing agreements require the additional parking but do not authorize billing.
The Right to Know Officer was not sure how the money was distributed to the Radnor
Enhancement Community Trust. She concluded the conversation by stating she would
note on the request that no document existed authorizing Radnor Township to bill for
monies distributed to the Radnor Enhancement Community Trust.

State of Pennsylvania, Department of Health

Request 12 – Dental Data submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Health by


Radnor School District (mailed on 4/28/09 certified mail restricted delivery from
Villanova, PA to the right-to-know officer by a practicing, young, female physician and
resident of Radnor)

Any and all information, submitted electronically or on paper, by the Radnor Township
School District to the Pennsylvania Department of Health regarding the provision of
dental services to its students for the 2005-2006 fiscal year.

Results: According to the stamp on the returned Standard Right to Know Request Form,
the request was received on May 7, 2009. On May 14, 2009, an envelope was
postmarked from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health. It contained
a cover letter, two requests, and the related documents. The cover letter, dated May 14,
2009 and written by the open records officer, notes,
For your information, the Requests for Reimbursement and Report of School
Health Services apply to a school year, not fiscal year. School districts forward the
Request for Reimbursement after the completion of the school year for which the Request
is being made. Thus the Department receives the Request the year following the school
year in which the services (for which reimbursement is being requested) were provided.
You requested the Request for Reimbursement and records of reimbursement for Radnor
Township school District for the 2005-2006 fiscal year. Because we could not easily
determine, based on your request, which school years you were interested in, we have
enclosed the Request for Reimbursement and the record of reimbursement for both the
2004-2005 school year and the 2005-206 school year. You will note that the
documentation for the 2005-2006 school year contains handwritten notes. These
notations document a subsequent reduction (in 2007) in reimbursement for the 2006-
2006* school year based on a correction for numbers of students (to whom nursing
services were provided) used in the calculation to determine reimbursement to the school
district for the provision of nursing services.

*From context, this is believed to be a typo for 2005-2006.

Enclosed were two reports from the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years entitled
Request for Reimbursement and Report of School Health Services. The 2004-2005 year
shows no cost of dental services (school dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants,
dental, preventive, diagnostic & treatment services, and dental supplies, equipment,
fluoride, & educational materials.) In terms of the Mandated Dental Services Program,
the report indicated that in grades K or 1, 3 & 7 are 634 students in public schools, 46 in
private/non-public schools and 1,080 total examined by family dentists with no
examinations by a school dentists. There was no participation in a fluoride program.
From the 2005-2006 records dated 5/17/07, there were no dental costs, no fluoride
program, and examinations by family dentists totaling 1,239 with 684 coming from the
public and 555 coming from the private/non-public schools. A total of ten (10) pages of
health documents were sent, along with a cover letter, at no charge.

Request 13 – Reimbursement documentation for Dental Services to Radnor School


District submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (mailed certified mail
restricted delivery from Villanova, PA to the right-to-know officer by a practicing, young,
female physician and resident of Radnor)

Any and all information, sent electronically or on paper, regarding the reimbursement by
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania paid by the Secretary of Health as provided by
Section 25-2505.1 (2006) of the Public School Code for dental services rendered by the
Radnor Township School District for the 2005-2006 fiscal year.

Results: Along with the cover letter and reports of Request 5, four (4) additional
documents for reimbursements were sent in the same envelope. The first, for the 05-06
fiscal year of the State and the 04-05 school year, a voucher shows zero school(0)
reimbursement to School Districts on Account of Dental Services – Act of July 15, 1957,
P.L. 937. The second documents relate to the 2006-2007 fiscal year that reimburse for the
2005-2006 school year. The voucher includes a claimed cost of $100.00 for dental
services. The five pages of reimbursement information, including the Administrative
Officer Processing Report for the 2005-2006 school year, were sent at no charge.

Summary

Right to Know is a hot topic in the Radnor community due to press coverage of local
events and on-going issues.

All agencies audited provided information about the Right to Know process and forms on
their websites. Although some were more readily accessible than others, a search-box
feature is most helpful. Only the Pennsylvania Standard Right-to-Know Request Form
could be completed on line. Forms in a PDF format, provided by Radnor Township
School District and Radnor Township, require modification to be completed on line or
can be printed and filled out manually.

Seven requests submitted to the Radnor Township School District were handled in a
variety of ways. Some responses were within the specified timelines (within five (5)
business days of receiving the request) while others were late (yet not, based on the
current information, denied). Notification in some cases was informal or absent. Delays
in responding and reasons for such were not always communicated. However, under the
law, if requests are denied, there is no need to inform the requester. In the case of requests
5,6, and 7, the documents were unable to be located to determine if they were maintained
for the required 30 days. Telephone calls and messages appear to have prompted
responses. The Right to Know Officer communicated about requests through face-to-face
meetings or telephone calls. Copying costs, as specified by the law, were passed on to the
public and, in one case, were calculated inaccurately. The method of request, hand-
delivered, faxed, or certified mail, may be a factor in the response. In one case,
incomplete copying of the request may have resulted an incomplete response The known
League of Women Voter requester received the promptest, and in some ways, more
information than requested. This may have been attributed to the nature of the request,
personal knowledge of the requester, or hand-delivery of the document. One response to
request #2, was incomplete even though the request was intact. Copies of the requests
were returned with responses.

Four requests made to the Township were dealt with in a manner compliant with the law.
Three of the four were answered completely and promptly. In the fourth case, the
absence of an official with special information prompted the extension of five-day
timeline. The Right to Know Officer contacted requesters by phone and informed each of
options for responding (following internet links or on paper; pick up or by mail). Timely
and well-mannered communication was evident in handling all requests. Copying costs,
as specified by the law, were charged as appropriate.

Two requests made to the State of Pennsylvania Department of Health, were responded to
completely and in compliance with the law. Clarifying information was provided by the
Right to Know Officer, and no costs for copying or mailing were requested as of this
date. Copies of the original requests were returned with the response noting dates of
receipt and dates by which responses were due within timelines.

Conclusions

Based on a limited sample, the Public Documents Audit of the League of Women Voters
has revealed the following:

• All agencies audited have appropriate information on their website to guide


requesters through the process.

• It is difficult to determine if requests have been denied or if clerical/transmittal


problems create unfortunate time delays.

• The State Department of Health and Radnor Township were consistent in


complying with the Right to Know Law.

• The Radnor Township School District was inconsistent in complying with the
Right to Know Law.

• Knowledge of League of Women Voter status may prompt differential


treatment in some agencies aware of auditing potential.

• Method of delivery and nature of request may make a difference in timeliness


of response.

• Financial documents appear to be more readily available than other types.

• The Right to Know Officer of Radnor Township is to be commended for her


responses and willingness to make the public “feel good” about asking
for information.

Recommendations

• Given that Right to Know Officers can be absent or positions may become
vacant, agencies need to have several individuals trained and
available to comply with requests in a timely manner.

• Request forms should be modified by the agencies to be completed and sent on-
line.

• To obtain material readily and to document receipt, hand-delivery with the


receipt of stamped copies of requests may be the optimum mode
for requesting information. Certified mail may not prompt timely
responses but may be beneficial to document delivery.

• The advocacy of local newspapers regarding Right to Know needs to be


reinforced by radio and television. Internet sites need to be
maintained
and updated to be responsive to their clientele.

• The appeal process through the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records


needs to be audited. Time constraints prohibited such a study at
this time.

• Consideration should be given to amending Act 3 of 2008 so that agencies that


deny a request must notify the requester within given timelines.
Reason(s) for denial should also be included to clarify the process.

• On-going training should be required for Right to Know Officers.

• Periodic audits of Right to Know Laws need to be conducted on an on-going


basis at all levels of government.

• A rating scale,* based on the audits in Radnor Township and Delaware County,
should be used as a basis for follow-up conversations and perhaps
on-going training with agencies to prompt a higher level of
compliance and greater responsiveness to public requests under the
Pennsylvania’s
Right to Know Law.

*See attached LWV Right to Know Audit Rating Scale.


LWV* Right to Know
Audit Rating Scale

Exemplary Satisfactory Needs Unable to Score


3 2 Improvement Assess
1
Home page Home page Home page lacks No
links to Right links lacking clear link to right information
to Know (RTK) one or more to know RTK about right to
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officer, resources: resources; know RTK
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Informatio
information, contact info, box option only agency web
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policy, forms, forms, policy, site
On-Line
and other and/or
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Responds in Responds Responds orally No evidence
writing within orally, via- via e-mail or US of response
five-day email, or U.S. mail beyond
Complianc
period with Mail within five-day period
e with
info as five-day or fails to
Response
requested period provide
Timelines
regarding materials as
request indicated within
timelines
Provides all Provides info Provides partial Information
info as as requested information or not forth-
Completen requested in but in a incomplete coming
ess of clear, well- difficult response
Response documented manner or
way format to be
meaningful
Friendly, Professional, Inconsistent, No evidence
open, formal, only responds to of
Tone of personable business-like direct inquiries response
Response communicatio of requestor,
n vague

At no charge As per costs Costs and fees No data to


given costs delineated in miscalculated or determine
Cost/Fees greater than procedural above guidelines
$1.00 guidelines

Clarifies Follows Complies in No basis;


Follows
instructions directions as manner limited
Instruction
and offers noted by inconsistent with evidence
s
options to requestor request
in Request
requestor
Appeal Cites link to Denies with no No basis;
process and information reference to limited
Denial
addresses on denial reason or appeal evidence
appeal
included with reasons and process
informatio
reason for appeal
n provided
denial. process.

*Collaboratively developed by League of Women Voters of Delaware County


and League of Women Voters of Radnor Township, under a Citizens Initiative
for Transparency Grant from the League of Women Voters of the US Education
Fund.