Government spending in Pennsylvania to fight public records requests hard to determine

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – It’s not easy to figure out how much governments are spending in Pennsylvania to fight access to their records.

To test compliance with the state’s Right-to-Know Law, employees of 19 newspapers asked 190 government entities for bills from outside lawyers on work to turn down public records requests.

More than 60 produced something. But in many cases, sections were so heavily blacked out, or redacted, that it was impossible to glean even what was in dispute.

The bills were requested as part of a statewide survey coordinated by The Associated Press to see how the Right-to-Know Law is working.

The survey found that government agencies are not uniformly applying the law but that most are responding more quickly to records requests, a sign of improved compliance.

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