Right To Know Policy


On March 13, 2020, the Honorable William Peduto, Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, issued a Declaration of Emergency. Thereafter, on March 16, 2020, Mayor Peduto announced a plan to implement mitigation strategies to increase containment of the virus identified as COVID-19. Therefore, City of Pittsburgh has instituted a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) that halts all nonessential City government operations and closes City Departments and facilities to the public.

As part of the COOP, the Mayor has encouraged essential employees to telework where possible. Because of these widespread closures, there is a limited ability to access and retrieve responsive records. As part of the City of Pittsburgh’s plan to assure the continuity of operations and to meet the needs of the citizens of the City of Pittsburgh, the City is suspending the deadlines of all pending and incoming Right-to-Know Law requests until the City of Pittsburgh reopens all City government facilities to the public and returns to full-scale operations.

We encourage requestors to notify the City of Pittsburgh if there is an urgent need for information so we can prioritize the processing of such requests during this unusual time. Requestors may email openrecords@pittsburghpa.gov detailing the urgent need and asking that the relevant Department, Bureau, or Office continue to process the request during the period of the official emergency declaration.

The City will update this notice as the COVID 19 situation changes. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we all work together to contain the spread of COVID 19 and mitigate its effect.

On January 1, 2009, a new Right to Know Law (the "RTKL") took effect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Under this statute, public records of the City of Pittsburgh are generally available to citizens who request them.

The following outlines the basic provisions of the RTKL and the procedures for making a request for records:


The Right to Know Law defines a public record as information, regardless of physical form, which documents a transaction or activity of the City, and that is created, received or retained pursuant to law or in connection with a transaction, business or activity of the City. A record is NOT a public record if:

  • it is exempt from disclosure under Section 708(b) of the RTKL; or
  • it is exempt from disclosure under any other Federal of State law, or regulation or judicial order or decree; or
  • it is protected by a privilege.

Generally, public records are to be open for inspection or duplication in accordance with the RTKL. Records are to be provided in the medium requested if they exist in that medium. Otherwise, they are to be provided in the medium in which they exist. The RTKL does not require the City to give computer access to any requester.

When responding to a request, the City is not required to create a record that does not presently exist. Nor is the City required to compile, maintain, format, or organize a record in a manner in which the City does not currently maintain, format, or organize the record.