I don't have it, I don't want it, and you can't make me get it

In one of a series of Right to Know cases decided by PA's Commonwealth Court Thursday, the court again overruled the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ("OOR").  The issue this time had to do with records that were neither held by the agency nor by anyone contracted to do a governmental function on behalf of the agency.  The OOR had said the agency had to get those records and turn them over to the requester.  The Commonwealth Court disagreed, saying the agency had no duty to get the records.

Admittedly, the specifics of the case are not likely to repeat in a school district.  The records requested were wage certification records of a private contractor under the prevailing wage act, but the request was to the PA Office of the Budget whose only connection to the construction job was through a loan overseen by Budget.  The requester figured (wrongly) that because Budget had oversight over the loan -- including the right to review the wage certifications -- that they were records 'of' Budget.

Like I said, not likely to repeat at a school district.  However, this case could have an impact on a similar situation involving the tax collectors that has been annoying school districts and municipalities almost since the law went into effect.

Similar to this case, the tax collector is not a governmental agency and he (or she) is not "contracted" to do a job for the taxing authority (the school district or municipality).  So, if the Commonwealth Court is consistent in its reasoning, it should also find that the taxing authorities are not required to get requested tax information from the tax collectors.

For those interested in the specifics of the case, it is Office of the Budget v. OOR, 768 C.D. 2010, and can be found here.

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