About the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”)

Summary

OPRA provides public access to government records. Generally, under this law, documents made, maintained, kept on file, or received in the course of university business may be government records subject to inspection and/or copying. There are numerous exceptions for various categories of documents that are not considered government records under the law or are exempt from disclosure under other applicable federal or state laws, regulations, or orders. It is important to note that the law provides for access to existing records; it does not provide access to information or require Rutgers to create documents for the purpose of responding to a request.

Time Frame

The law provides for a short time frame in which to respond to a request for a record. A response will typically be made to the request within seven (7) business days of a written request. If it is determined that the requestor seeks access to a readily available government record, then, if practicable, it will be provided within seven business days. If the government record is temporarily unavailable, the requestor will be notified within that seven-day period as to when the record is expected. If the Custodian of Records determines that the requestor has sought access to documents that are not government records, then the requestor will be notified of this.

Disputes

If there is a dispute as to whether public access to a document has been denied incorrectly, the requestor may file a complaint with the Government Records Council in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs or file a lawsuit in Superior Court. The Government Records Council offers mediation as a means to resolve these disputes and, if mediation fails, is authorized by law to determine whether access should be granted to the record sought.