Open Public Records Act

What is the Open Public Records Act (OPRA)?

The OPRA law replaced the previous “Right to Know Law” and governs the public’s access to government records in New Jersey.  OPRA was enacted in 2002 to give the public greater access to records maintained by public agencies in New Jersey by balancing the public’s interest in government records, respect for personal privacy, and the efficient process of government. OPRA is codified as N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq.

What is a “government record” under OPRA?

A “government record” means any record that has been made, maintained, or kept on file, or that has been received in the course of official business.
All government records are subject to public access unless specifically exempt under OPRA or any other law.  OPRA contains 27 specific exemptions that exempt access to records. See,

Who is the custodian of government records in the Township of Montclair?

OPRA defines “custodian of a government record” as that official designated by formal action of a public agency’s director or governing body that has custody or control of the government records of the public agency. N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1.

The custodian of government records in a municipality is the municipal clerk.  However, in order to make it easier for requestors to seek and obtain government records in an expeditious manner consistent with OPRA, the Mayor and Council of the Township of Montclair adopted Resolution R-19-022 designating Deputy Custodians of government records. 

Upon receipt of a valid OPRA request, the Office of the Township Clerk will forward the request to the appropriate Deputy Custodian who maintains custody and control of the government record.

What is a valid OPRA Request?

A valid OPRA request is a written request to a custodian of a government record for access to an identified government record. N.J.S.A. 47:1A5(g). Requests for information or requests that ask questions are NOT valid OPRA requests.

Requestors must be as specific as possible when requesting records.  For example, requestors must identify types of records, dates or range of dates, parties to correspondence, and subject matter.

Requestors may not know the names of certain records.  The spirit of OPRA implies that custodians should assist requestors with identifying the records they are seeking, although a custodian's failure to do so is not a violation of OPRA.

 How do I submit an OPRA request?

Submit OPRA Requests here:

 What is the time frame for a records custodian to respond to an OPRA request?

The appropriate Deputy Custodian or their designee will send a written response either granting access, denying access, seeking clarification, or requesting an extension of time within the statutorily mandated seven (7) business days provided that the record is not archived or in storage. N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(i).

As an exception to the typical response time frame, P.L. 2020, c.10, enacted on March 20, 2020, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5(i) provides that the statutory time frame shall not apply during a state of emergency, public health emergency, or state of local disaster emergency.

When does the response time clock begin?

Day one (1) is the day following the custodian’s receipt of the request.

If a custodian seeks clarification of an OPRA request, the response time clock stops until the requestor provides a response to the custodian.  Upon receipt of the requestor’s clarification, the statutory response time begins anew.

More Questions?

The New Jersey Government Records Council (GRC) provides “A Citizen’s Guide to OPRA" which can be downloaded here. The guide was assembled to help records requestors understand some of the most common issues regarding the Open Public Records Act.

The Government Records Council (GRC) operates a toll-free inquiry hotline to which requestors of government records and records custodians may call to obtain guidance regarding the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). The toll-free number is 1-866-850-0511.