Policies

Public Records Policy

Overview

The intent of this policy is to clarify the existing practices of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) regarding public access to Commission records.

This policy is intended to balance the benefits of general public access to agency records with other considerations of privacy, confidentiality, and security. DVRPC favors the release of and access to records, and will endeavor to make as much information as possible available within the parameters of this policy. This policy shall apply to all recorded information, regardless of whether the information exists in written or electronic format.

The following types of records (both in hard copy and digital formats) are not subject to public access under this policy:

  1. Records related solely to the internal personnel matters of the Commission, including staff, commissioners, and committee members;
  2. Records specifically exempted from disclosure by statute, court order, or common law practice;
  3. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and considered privileged or confidential;
  4. The internal pre-decisional deliberations (other than purely factual materials) of the Commission, its members, alternates, officers, legal counsel, contractors, and employees, or such pre-decisional deliberations with another agency, its officers, legal counsel and employees, relating to a budget recommendation, contemplated or proposed policy, or a course of action; any research, memos or other documents used in pre-decisional deliberations;
  5. Personnel and medical files and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy; and
  6. Copyrighted material or information subject to a licensing agreement, the disclosure of which would violate the terms of such agreement.
  7. A record, the disclosure of which creates a reasonable likelihood of endangering the safety or the physical security of a building, public utility, resource, infrastructure, facility or information storage system.

The Commission may make its records available through any publicly accessible electronic means, including the Commission's website. The Commission may respond to a request by notifying the requester that the record is available through publicly accessible electronic means, such as the Commission's website, or that the Commission will provide access to the record electronically.

Procedure for Requests

To request a public record from DVRPC, the requester must complete the Public Records Request Form [0.1 MB pdf] and mail, fax, or email it to:

Alison Hastings
Manager, Office of Communications and Engagement
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
The American College of Physicians Building - 8th Floor
190 North Independence Mall West
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1520
Phone: (215) 592-1800; Fax: (215) 592-9125; Email: public_affairs@dvrpc.org

If you need assistance in completing the Public Records Request form, please contact the Office of Communications and Engagement. Copies of the respective request forms are available on the DVRPC website (www.dvrpc.org) or from the Office of Communications and Engagement.

Requests must be sufficiently specific to enable DVRPC to ascertain which records are being requested. The Commission shall not be required to prepare new records in order to respond to a request for information.

If the request is to be provided in a medium other than hard copy, the requester must specify such medium, including in the case of electronic transmittal, the appropriate format. DVRPC will endeavor to comply with non-hard copy requests.

Upon receipt of a request, the Office of Communications and Engagement will review the request: (a) for completeness; (b) to determine whether the records requested are subject to public access under this policy; and (c) to determine the Commission's ability to fulfill the request in the medium selected.

The Office of Communications and Engagement will then recommend to the Executive Director that the request be fulfilled or denied.

The Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law and the New Jersey Open Public Records Act

DVRPC was created through an interstate compact between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey. As such, DVRPC is governed by federal interstate compact law and not subject to the unilateral control of any one state. In October 2012, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that DVRPC is not subject to the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law, 56 A.3d 40 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012).

In June 2013, the New Jersey Government Records Council ruled that DVRPC is not subject to New Jersey's Open Public Records Act, GRC Case No. 2012-139.

Appeals Procedure

Whenever a request for DVRPC records is denied, in addition to any other relief available, the requester may appeal that decision to the Executive Committee of the DVRPC Board. To do so the requester must:

Address the appeal, in writing, by mail, or by facsimile, to the:
Chairperson of the Board
c/o Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
The American College of Physicians Building – 8th Floor
190 North Independence Mall West, 8th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1520
Fax (215) 592-9125

The appeal must include all information, including copies of the original request and all DVRPC responses, as well as any other information deemed appropriate for DVRPC Board Executive Committee review. The requester shall have 30 days from the date of the denial to file an appeal. Upon receipt of an appeal to a denial issued under this policy, the matter will be placed on the next available Executive Committee meeting agenda for review and action.

If the Executive Committee finds that the Executive Director correctly denied the request, a written explanation of the affirmation of the denial will be provided to the requester. If the finding is that the request should be fulfilled, DVRPC will begin immediately to fulfill the request in accordance with the provisions of this policy.

Fees

For reproduction of existing hard copy information, DVRPC will charge a reproduction fee per page in accordance with the Commission's fee schedule. All reproduction in other formats shall be at the actual cost of the format for reproduction. DVRPC reserves the right to limit the number of copies of any document that will be provided to one person.

If the cost estimate of fulfilling the request is less than $100.00, the fee is due at the time the request is completed. The Commission reserves the right to withhold documents until such time as the fee is paid. Should the cost estimate of fulfilling the request exceed $100.00, the fee must be paid before fulfillment is begun. If the requester refuses to pay the applicable fee, the request will be deemed denied and subject to the applicable appeal procedures outlined above.

Note: The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission will waive all fees that total Ten Dollars ($10.00) or less.

Adopted: March, 2014

Title VI Statement

Website Accessibility Policy

DVRPC is committed to the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is DVRPC's policy to provide equal access for individuals with disabilities, which includes this website. The DVRPC website is designed to comply with two different standards for website accessibility: compliance with the Priority Level One standards recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and compliance with the legal requirements of Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Popular screen readers can be used effectively by the visually impaired on this website.

Unfortunately, in the day-to-day update and maintenance of our site, we realize that errors may occur and that there may be individual pages that do not meet these criteria. If you encounter a webpage that does not meet our accessibility standards, please let us know so that we may resolve the problem. Also, some advanced tools on our website (such as Online Mapping) may not be fully useful to those using screen reading software, but we feel strongly that this information should be made available to the many visitors who are able to access it.

For more information about DVRPC's Website, please visit the About our Site webpage.

Digital Data Disclaimer

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) excludes any and all implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for any digital file obtained from the Commission. No guarantees are expressed or implied as to the use or application of the digital information supplied. DVRPC assumes no responsibility to maintain them in any manner or form.

DVRPC will not be liable for and the user agrees to hold DVRPC harmless from and against any direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages arising out of the use or inability to use the material supplied, or arising out of any inaccuracy or defect in the digital information supplied.

Recipients of DVRPC digital files are not entitled to any file revisions, updates, corrections or new releases.

Recipients of DVRPC digital files are encouraged to credit DVRPC as the source of the data when producing maps, graphics, or other documents that utilize DVRPC files.

Any questions regarding digital files may be directed to the Office of GIS.

This website contains links to websites that are not maintained by DVRPC. These links are provided for the benefit of our website visitors to provide related information outside of DVRPC sponsored programs. The majority of these links are to member governments, federal government resources, and planning partners in the nonprofit and private sectors. Link suggestions and requests should be directed to the Office of Communications and Engagement, who will make the final determiniation if a link is appropriate for our website.

Please be aware that DVRPC is not responsible for the content and/or privacy practices of such other sites. In order to clarify this, all links to non-DVRPC materials should open in a new browser window. This policy only applies to the www.dvrpc.org website.