Welcome!

News Feed Item

Treasurer McCord Files Petition to Safeguard State Employee Safety

Commonwealth Court Asked to Decide If Right to Know Law Applies Where Personal Safety and Security Is in Question

HARRISBURG, PA--(Marketwired - February 24, 2014) - Faced with the threat of a lawsuit, or releasing information that could jeopardize the safety and security of some public employees, Treasurer Rob McCord today asked Commonwealth Court to resolve a conflict concerning the application of the state Right to Know Law.

"I take seriously my obligation to protect the safety and security of our public employees. By filing this motion, I hope to ensure the protection of our public employees as provided in the Right to Know Law," McCord said.

McCord brought the matter before the court following a written threat to sue by a group calling itself Pennsylvanians for Union Reform (PFUR). PFUR said it will sue the commonwealth if Treasury does not produce an un-redacted list of personal information for all state employees. The state's Right to Know Law exempts some of that information from public release if it would put the personal safety of the employee at risk, such as law enforcement officers, or state employees with protection-from-abuse orders.

But PFUR and its president, Simon Campbell, have requested complete employee information under another law, the state Administrative Code, arguing they do not want the Right to Know Law to apply.

"The Legislature created a comprehensive system in which requests for public records are handled through the Right to Know Law. It is absurd to suggest that the Legislature did not intend the law to apply in all circumstances involving public records," McCord said. "PFUR appears to want to pick and choose when the Right to Know Law applies."

With the question of whether the Administrative Code or the Right to Know Law applies in such cases seemingly destined for a court decision either way, McCord, in his official capacity, filed a Petition for Review in the Nature of an Action for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief.

"As a public official, I'm in the position of either complying with the organization's demand and releasing information that has been deemed confidential under the Right to Know Law -- for good reason, in my opinion -- or redacting the information and subjecting the Treasury Department to litigation. We thought it best to ask the court proactively to clarify the issue before we proceed," McCord said.

On January 15, the attorney for PFUR wrote to the Treasurer, asking for a list of employees and related information. Under the Administrative Code, Treasury annually receives electronic files containing lists of all employees of each executive branch agency. Those lists have not been redacted to exclude information on employees who have active protection from abuse orders, are domestic and sexual violence victims, or are confidential undercover agents or other at-risk law enforcement officers.

PFUR's attorney specifically stated their request was not being made under the Right to Know Law, but instead under the Administrative Code, which says the employee records furnished to Treasury are "public information." Treasury's legal counsel responded a week later by informing the PFUR attorney that Treasury would consider the request under the Right to Know Law. That statute and a subsequent court decision direct public agencies such as Treasury to treat all written requests for access to records as Right to Know requests.

PFUR's attorney in turn wrote to Treasury on January 27, insisting the request be considered under the Administrative Code and giving the department until February 21 to produce the information sought. Failure to do so, he wrote, would result in him filing a mandamus action in court to enforce the provisions of the Administrative Code.

"The Right to Know Law is valuable for increasing government transparency and giving citizens access to information they deserve to have. It was never intended, however, to compromise the physical safety of law enforcement officers or victims of criminal violence, and the Legislature recognized that and included some proper exceptions when it wrote the statute," McCord said.

"No matter how Mr. Campbell and his group intend to use the information, a determination to put it into the public domain is something I believe would be outside the scope of my duties as Treasurer, and irresponsible," he added. "That's why I have asked the court to affirm that the Right to Know Law exemptions should apply."

The administrative agency employee list could contain the identity of undercover law enforcement personnel, the identity of persons who are participants in the Crime Victim Advocate's Address Confidentiality program, the birth days and months of employees, and persons who have obtained protection from abuse orders in which their residency and work address are subject to court-ordered confidentiality.

Under the Right to Know Law, public records are exempt from disclosure if they would, for example, reveal personal identification information, personal financial information, victim information, or information that may jeopardize the safety of a victim, endanger someone's physical or personal safety or security, or hinder an arrest, prosecution or conviction. The Right to Know Law compels an agency to consider applicable exclusions when determining whether information is exempt from disclosure.

For more information, visit www.patreasury.gov.

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

Latest Stories
Let’s face it, embracing new storage technologies, capabilities and upgrading to new hardware often adds complexity and increases costs. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Seth Oxenhorn, Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at FalconStor, will discuss how a truly heterogeneous software-defined storage approach can add value to legacy platforms and heterogeneous environments. The result reduces complexity, significantly lowers cost, and provides IT organizations with improved effi...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection.
Data-as-a-Service is the complete package for the transformation of raw data into meaningful data assets and the delivery of those data assets. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lakshmi Randall, an industry expert, analyst and strategist, will address: What is DaaS (Data-as-a-Service)? Challenges addressed by DaaS Vendors that are enabling DaaS Architecture options for DaaS
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
CIOs and those charged with running IT Operations are challenged to deliver secure, audited, and reliable compute environments for the applications and data for the business. Behind the scenes these tasks are often accomplished by following onerous time-consuming processes and often the management of these environments and processes will be outsourced to multiple IT service providers. In addition, the division of work is often siloed into traditional "towers" that are not well integrated for cro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that FalconStor Software® Inc., a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FalconStor Software®, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform. Its flagship solution FreeStor®, utilizes a horizonta...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...