The Open Public Records Act
The New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA) gives greater access to public inspection and duplication of government records. OPRA does not cover the judicial branch or municipal courts, as they are regulated by other statutes. The public has access to government records except for those documents that fall under defined exclusions, which are noted in this brochure. Under OPRA, the Municipal Clerk has been designated as the official Custodian of Records. Procedures, forms, timetables for access, and penalties for non-compliance have been set forth in the new law. Please read this material carefully to expedite your requests.
IMMEDIATE ACCESS RECORDS
- Budgets (Not inclusive of working documents) Bills, Vouchers, and Contracts Collective Negotiation Agreements (Final) Individual Employment Contracts Employee Salaries and Overtime Information
- Approved Minutes, Ordinances & Resolutions (Not Drafts)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How Do I Request Records?
The Municipal Clerk is the Custodian of Records and each Department Head has been designated as a Deputy Custodian. Documents, other than immediate access records, will be provided or denied, within (7) business days. The Public has the right to appeal or mediate all decisions. Individuals can inspect, examine, or ask for copies during Marlboro Township's regular business hours: Monday through Thursday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
All requests must be in writing and completed on an appropriate form given to the appropriate Custodian or Deputy. Forms may be obtained at the Municipal Clerk's office during normal business hours or may be obtained online. Completed forms can be faxed (732-972-6928), hand-delivered, e-mailed (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mailed to the Municipal Clerk. Records requests cannot be made by telephone. This does not apply to Immediate Access Records which are normally given to the public. Immediate Access requests should be entered into Department Logs. All records inspected or copied must be privacy redacted prior to delivery.
Can I Request Information Anonymously?
Requests can be anonymous, except in the cases of victims' records and criminal investigations. The Custodian or Deputy may require a deposit or full payment in requests for duplication in excess of $5.00.
What is the Timetable for Access?
Custodians have (7) seven business days to either deny or fulfill requests for documents. If the request involves large amounts of information, both the requester and Custodian can agree to an extension of time. This does not apply to immediate access documents.
Will I be Charged for Copies?
The fees for Letter size pages are $0.05 per page, Legal size pages are $0.07 per page. Deposits or prepayments of fees may be required, particularly for large requests. Other materials such as CD, DVD, tapes, maps, hearing transcripts, exhibits, drawings, etc. will be charged based upon the actual cost to the agency for reproduction. The Custodian must inform the requester of these special charges and elicit agreement in writing prior to reproduction.
What Information Formats are Available?
Custodians must provide records in the formats requested if those formats exist at the agency. This includes email or CD-Rom. Charges will be assessed to the requester based upon the actual cost to the agency. Substituted formats sensitive to time and cost can be mediated between the agency and the requester, if both parties agree.
What Happens if my Request is Denied?
Wrongful/willful denials can result in punitive fees to officials ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. OPRA provides that a person who is denied access can choose to file a suit in Superior Court or file a complaint with the Government Records Council. Prior to any legal action, the requester can ask for an opinion or seek mediation from the Government Records Council in order to avoid costly fees.
How Can I Contact the Government Records Council?
The Government Records Council is located at Box 819, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0819, by email at email@example.com, or toll free at 1-866-850-0511. Information regarding this newly formed agency can be found on their website at www.nj.gov/grc.
RECORDS THAT CANNOT BE DISCLOSED
Relevant to Government Documents
- Consultative, deliberative, and/or advisory material including drafts and proposals are not accessible. Criteria for Exclusion: If the document was prepared before the adoption of a policy or decision, or the document contains opinions, recommendations, or advice.
- No material will be created in response to a public request if the document does not already exist or is required to be kept on file.
- Emergency management and security information is barred from public disclosure.
- Administrative or technical information on computer hardware/software/networks are not open public records if they breach security.
- Information that would give an advantage to competitors or bidders will not be disclosed.
- Communications between a public agency and its insurance/risk carriers are not accessible.
- Confidential material excluded by court orders or regulated by other NJ Statutes, Legislative Resolutions, Executive Orders, Federal Laws, etc. will not be open for public review.
- Records falling within attorney-client privilege are confidential.
- Trade secrets and proprietary commercial or financial information, including data processing software under a licensing agreement barring disclosure, are not accessible.
- Information generated on or on behalf of public employers and/or public employees in connection with sexual harassment complaints, grievances, or collective negotiations, strategies, and or positions are not public information documents.
- Public agency active investigation records are not available while the investigation is in progress or if the disclosure is against the public interest. Note: If the document has been open to the public prior to the investigation, it cannot be withheld during the investigation.
Relevant to Law Enforcement
- Files kept by the Public Defender relating to the handling of a case are confidential unless access is authorized by law, a court order, or the State Public Defender.
- Victim's records are not open to the public. However, victims are permitted access to their own records. Please note that no anonymous requests will be honored.
- Photos, negatives, and videotapes of autopsies are not available to the public.
- Criminal investigation information normally available within 24 hours may be withheld if the safety of a person is jeopardized or if the investigation's progress is compromised.
Relevant to the New Jersey Legislature
- Information received by a member of the State Senate or Assembly regarding a constituent is not accessible by the public.
- Memos, letters, notes, reports, and other communications prepared for the use of State Legislators in the line of official duty are not open to the public. This does not apply to publicly accessible reports required to be submitted to the Legislature or its members.
Relevant to Personnel and Pension Records
- Pension Records/Personnel Files are excluded from access except with regard to: Name, Title, Position Held, Salary, Payroll Record, Length of Service, Date of Separation, Reason for Separation, and the Amount and Type of Pension Received.
- Personal Privacy Exceptions: Any portions of documents containing social security numbers, credit card numbers, unlisted telephone numbers, or driver license numbers are not to be disclosed and must be removed from documents inspected or copied by the public.