State Public Records Law

New Jersey Open Public Records Act


New Jersey Statutes Annotated, Title 47, Ch. 1A


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Exemptions to Disclosure

  • Agency deliberative material [does not include bid specifications, nor purely factual material, nor post-decisional material, nor property appraisals – if it doesn’t include deliberations occurring during decision-making process, then not included in exemption]; deliberative process exemption can be overridden if need is so compelling as to outweigh the govt’s interest in confidentiality (burden on requestor); initial burden for deliberative process exemption falls on the custodian to show that the records are pre-decisional and deliberative in nature, and contain opinions/ recommendations/advice about governmental policies [Bozzi v. City of Atlantic City, 434 N.J.Super. 326, 84 A.3d 277 (A.D.2014)]
  • Trade secrets, proprietary/commercial or financial info (including data processing software obtained under licensing agreement prohibiting disclosure)
  • Privileged
  • Work product
  • “A government record shall not include, with regard to any public institution of higher education, the following information which is deemed to be privileged and confidential; Pedagogical, scholarly and/or academic research records and/or the specific details of any research project conducted under the auspices of a public higher education institution in New Jersey, including, but not limited to research, development information, testing procedures, or information regarding test participants, related to the development or testing of any pharmaceutical or pharmaceutical delivery system, except that a custodian may not deny inspection of a government record or part thereof that gives the name, title, expenditures, source and amounts of funding and date when the final project summary of any research will be available.”

Access Rights

  • Nonprofit entities representing State’s municipalities = public entity for sake of disclosure of records [Fair Share Housing Center, Inc. v. New Jersey State League of Municipalities, 207 N.J. 489, 25 A.3d 1063 (2011)]
  • Corporate subcontractors do not qualify as public agencies subject to OPRA [Paff v. Community Education Centers, Inc., 2013 WL 6096513, Unreported (A.D.2013)]
  • Need not demonstrate any particularized public or private interest in the record
  • Any person
  • During regular business hours (or if entity is small or has small amount of assets, whichever is less of (a) at least 6 regular business hours over not less than 3 business days per week, or (b) the entity’s regularly-scheduled business hours) [47:1A-5]
  • Free access to electronic/non-print records, though can be charged for needed supplies such as computer discs
  • Fee for print copies not to exceed actual cost of duplication, and charge cannot include cost of labor or other overhead expenses unless the record cannot be copied in the ordinary means or involves an extraordinary expenditure of time and effort, in which case may be charged reasonable special service charge based upon direct actual cost of duplication, provided that if custodian is a municipality, the rates must be established in advance by ordinance; requestor must have opportunity to review and object to charge prior to it being incurred
  • Can be charged for conversion into medium not already routinely maintained or used
  • Immediate access ordinarily for records that are budgets, bills, vouchers, contracts, collective negotiations agreements, individual employment contracts, and public employee salary and overtime info
  • Records to be provided in requested medium if they exist in that medium
  • Requests must be in writing and hand-delivered, mailed, e-mailed, or otherwise conveyed to the appropriate custodian
  • If recipient of request is not custodian, must forward request to custodian or direct requestor to custodian
  • Custodian will have forms to fill out for requests, which will also have allotted spaces for the custodian to fill out re: denials, delays, reasons, etc. (in other states, this information is not conveyed through a single form that goes back and forth between the requestor and custodian)
  • Responses must be “prompt”: if record is currently available/not in storage nor archived, response due no later than 7 business days after receiving request; failure to respond in that time constitutes a denial of the request, unless requestor chose to remain anonymous and has not provided means of contact – in which case, custodian not required to respond until requestor appears before custodian seeking response.
  • If record is in storage or archived, response saying this due w/in 7 business days of request, advising when record will be made available; if record not made available by that time, access deemed denied.
  • Notice of right to challenge denials of access must be posted prominently in public view in part(s) of the office that are open to or frequented by the public, and procedure for filing appeal, etc.
  • Requestors denied access can challenge by filing an action in superior court, or filing a complaint with the Government Records Council; agency bears burden of proving denial authorized by law; requestor prevailing in any proceeding entitled to access and to reasonable attorney’s fee – no fee for filing complaint

Destruction of Public Records

  • No destruction of records, per 47:1-14

Whistleblower Score

Rank: 12/51

New Jersey has a very narrow statute (12 out of 33 possible points) with good usability (26 out of 33) and strong remedies (29 out of 33) plus the one bonus point awarded for employee notification of rights. 

Read the full assessment here»

New Jersey Activity

Zoe Kelman: Sounding Chromium Alarm

Zoe Kelman was a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection chemical engineer who blew the whistle on the ...

Highlands Septic Study Faces Retraction Demand

Highlands Septic Study Faces Retraction Demand

New Jersey Still Sitting on FEMA Sandy Energy Funds

Delays Caused by Continual State Dithering and Ever Shifting Priorities

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Seeks Damages vs Dupont at Pompton Lakes

Mercury Contamination of Jersey Water and Wildlife Will Last after EPA Cleanup

Jersey Open Space Measure Cannibalizes Parks & Eco-Programs

Zeros Out Park Maintenance Money and Forces Layoffs in Waste & Water Programs

Federal Audit Tags Christie for Post-Sandy TV Ads

“Significant Deficiencies” May Cost State $23 Million in “Unsupported” Expenses

Christie’s Two-Faces on Open Spaces

Bashes Open Space Commitment He Touts to Win Federal Grants

Christie’s Barnegat Bay Shell Game

Regulatory Ruses to Evade Legal Duty to Impose Meaningful Pollution Controls

Study Documenting Barnegat Bay Decline Kept in Limbo

Land Use Driving Nutrient Loading; Pollution Diet Needed to Avert Tipping Point

New Jersey Hands Drinking Water Safeguards to Dupont

Corporate-Dominated Science Board Asks DuPont to Self-Assess Chemical Effects

Christie Landfill to Solar Scheme Goes Terribly Wrong

State DEP Sitting on Report Detailing Fenimore Landfill Toxic Seepage into Streams

New Jersey Flunks Audit on Federal Stimulus Funds

Two-Thirds of Leaking Underground Storage Tank Clean Up Work Left Undone

EPA Badly Fumbles Jersey Pompton Lakes Toxic Cleanup

Permit Withdrawal Throws Eco-Safeguards into Doubt While Adding Years of Delay

Christie Eco-Officials Fronted for Favored Developer

Mastro Report Focus on DEP Role in Pressing Hoboken for Rockefeller Project

Christie’s Other Hidden Multi-Billion Dollar Deficit

No Plan to Pay for Huge Water Infrastructure Shortfall Aggravated by Sandy

New Jersey Oks Capping Toxic Soils Over Groundwater

Latest Christie Rollback for Developers Reverses 40-Year Public Health Policy

Christie Sandy Hazard Reduction Plan a Contradictory Mess

No Public Input or Legislative Review of Belated Plan to Qualify for Federal Funds

State Push Back Against Federal Superfund Designations

With Nation’s Longest Superfund List, New Jersey Seeks to Place Barriers to More

Who Turned off Air Pollution Monitor During Bridge Closure?

U.S. EPA to Investigate Why Key Air Monitor Went Offline for Nearly Three Days

Christie Slips Developers a Pass on Groundwater Cleanup

Developers May Sidestep Toxic Contamination If “Impractical” to Remediate

New Christie Sandy Spending Plan Has Gaping Holes

HUD Beefs up Audits for Jersey Expenditures; 2-Year Use-It-or-Lose-It Deadline

Jersey Sandy Energy Grant Awards Raise More Questions

Hazard Mitigation Funding Criteria Ignores Municipal Need and Hazard Severity

“Expedited Approval” for Jersey Developers Is Christie Staple

Lt. Governor Guadagno Tasked as Red Tape Czar to Ram through Projects

Probe of Christie Sandy Spending Should Extend Beyond TV Ads

Jersey Rebuilding Effort Studded with Sketchy and Costly Federal Rule Deviations

Pinelands Commissioners’ Energy Holdings Spark Ethics Query

Expedited Conflict Review Sought before Hurried Pipeline Approval Vote This Week

Christie Digging Transit Fiasco Hole Deeper

Transit Privatizes Flood Forecasts to Bypass State’s Climate Change Denial

Documents Undergirding Pinelands Pipeline Plan Unavailable

Facts behind Key Economic and Environmental Findings Kept from Public Hearing

Christie Climate Denial Imperils Sandy Recovery Funds

New Federal Rules Stress Climate Change Adaptation Missing from Jersey Policies

Gas Pipeline Poised to Carve Through New Jersey’s Pinelands

Pinelands Commission Scrambling to Contain Fallout from Behind-the-Scenes Moves

Christie’s $120 Million Cover Story Goes off the Rails

Sandy Damage to Nearly One-Third of Rail Fleet Was Predicted and Preventable

New Jersey Unprepared for Climate Threats to Water Supplies

Absence of Planning & Regulatory Freeze Stymie Critical Water Management Steps

Green-Washing New Jersey Style

Wal-Mart Funds Christie-Touted "Sustainability" Plan as Green Programs Gutted

Obama – Christie Embrace Ends Over Sandy Rebuilding

Feds Resilient Strategy Runs Counter to New Jersey Armor Plating Vulnerable Coast

Vapor Intrusion Standards Relaxed in New Jersey

No Public Review of New Guidance to Industry Consultants on Toxic Cleanups

Corporate Gambit on New Jersey’s Drinking Water

Legislation Would Limit Science That Could Be Used for Risk Assessments

New Jersey yet to Come to Grips With Post-Sandy Flood Risks

Coastal Maps Do Not Account for Climate Change Effects; Inland Maps Decades Old

Jersey Toxic Spill Fiasco Demands Second Look

Review of Evacuation and Health Warnings Confusion, Role of Corporate Consultant

Cascading Failures Threaten New Jersey Water Supplies

Abandonment of Climate Preparedness Work Aggravates Garden State’s Plight

20,000 Protest New Jersey Plan to Clear-Cut Bull’s Island

Tree Removals Expand as State Eschews Public Review or Expert Consultation

No Free Lunch at Liberty Park Pavilions

New Jersey Will Charge Up to $225 for Sheltered Picnic Areas with Iconic Views


Court Ruling Underlines State Futility in Assessing "Natural Resources Damages"


Removing It from Impaired Waters List Precludes Remedial Action for Years


DEP Will Need Weeks to Compile Appeal Numbers as Enforcement Languishes

Lead Limits Needed on Tire Crumb Playgrounds

CPSC Ruling on Artificial Play-Areas as Children’s Products Sought

The Christie Myth of Environmental Red Tape

New Jersey Stopped Issuing Backlog Report Which Showed No Permit Backlog

Corporate Shadow Over Jersey’s Tainted Groundwater Darkens

Science “Advisors” Push Dramatic Relaxation of Groundwater Cleanup Standards

Thousands of Jersey Pollution Permits Unenforceable

Appeal for EPA Intervention to Nix Radical Christie Stealth Deregulation

Corporate Takeover of New Jersey’s Environmental Science

Hand-Picked Science Advisors Meet in Secret to Produce Un-Reviewed Reports

New Jersey War on “Killer Trees” Violates Federal Law

Bull's Island Is Habitat for Endangered Bat and Protected Migratory Birds

Disturbing Toxic Air Results Confirmed in Paterson, NJ

State Dissembles on Findings That 7 Air Toxics Are “Above the Health Benchmark”

New Jersey Declares Stealth War on “Killer Trees”

DEP Plans Emergency Clear-Cut of Bull's Island State Park on Delaware River

EPA Discloses Nine More Superfund-Eligible Sites in New Jersey

Thirty Five Sites Passed Over for Superfund Relief; One More Site Still Pending

Federal Wildlife Agency Flays Jersey Pompton Lakes Plan

Fish & Wildlife Service Conditions Restructure Cleanup and Spur Damage Payments

Twenty Seven New Jersey Superfund-Eligible Sites Left off List

EPA Still Reviewing Status of Unknown Number of Garden State Toxic Hotspots

Water Gap Transmission Corridor Legally Vulnerable

Concessions to Industry and Skewed Review Will Fuel Lawsuits

Dupont Pompton Lake Pollution May Be Headed Downstream

DEP Scientists’ Questions Could Prompt Feds to Expand DuPont Cleanup Scope

Christie Guts Vapor Intrusion Safeguards

New Jersey Puts Private Consultants in Public Health Driver’s Seat

Lawsuit to Uncover Toxic History of New Jersey

U.S. EPA Will Not Release Hazardous Ratings for Pompton Lakes and Other Sites

Fair Market Value Leases Could Fund Jersey Park System

Shale Gas Pipeline Highlights State’s Failure to Collect Full Payments from Utilities

Polluters’ Attorney Sees No Conflicts in Top Jersey Eco-Job

Duties Have Direct Impact on Former Clients’ Fortunes; Ethics Review Requested

Christie Abrupt About-Face on Green Power

Nuclear and Natural Gas Touted; Conservation Incentives to be Zeroed Out

New Jersey to Deregulate Toxic Vapor Intrusion

Control of Deadly Seepage Put on “Honor System” in Christie Regulatory Rollback

Governor Christie’s Global Warming Honey Pot

Eco-Fund Raided for Anti-Eco Projects; Recycling $ Recycled to General Fund

Strong Federal Action Needed Now at Toxic Jersey Dupont Site

Spreading and Uncontrolled Contamination in Hundreds of Pompton Lakes Homes

Pay-To-Players Take Over Jersey Environmental Agency

Corporate Political Donors Control DEP Toxic Clean-Up Oversight and Rulemaking

EPA’s Jackson Has Checkered Chromium Record

New Jersey Tenure Marked by Stifling Health Warnings on Deadly Substance

Jersey Cooling Tower U-Turn Derails Nuke Pollution Control

Oyster Creek Reactor Can Keep Wreaking Havoc on Barnegat Bay Marine Life

Jersey Nixes Filtration Plan for Drinking Water

State Wants EPA to Act on Rising Chemical Contamination of Water Supplies

New Jersey Throws Cloak Over Environmental Documents

Large Categories of Enforcement, Inspection and Property Records Going Off Limits

After 20 Years New Jersey Toxic Site Remains Regulatory Swamp

EPA Assurance Adds to Confusion about Fate of DuPont Pompton Lakes Clean-Up

New Jersey Rushes to Halliburton-Ize Toxic Clean-Ups

Election Eve Hearing Signals Desire to Rush Relaxed Contractor Standards

New Jersey Guts New Privatized Toxic Clean-Up Rules

“Safety Cushion” Extended to Polluters at Expense of Public Health

New Jersey to Privatize Land Use Permitting

Contractors to Write Flood Control, Coastal Wetlands and Other Approvals

Filter the Chemical Soup in New Jersey’s Drinking Water

Available Treatments Could Screen Hundreds of Unregulated Compounds from Taps

Bid to Hike Sewage Content of New Jersey Rivers

Sewer Plants Ask Christie Administration to Relax Water Supply Protections

Where Is the New Jersey Shellfish Action Plan?

Deadline Today to Address Critical Public Health Deficiencies Identified by FDA

Radioactive Wells Pose Bigger Risks in New Jersey

Hundreds of Thousands Exposed Daily to Rad Levels Many Times over Safety Limits

FDA Threatens to Ban New Jersey Shellfish Sales

Human Waste Discharges and Disease Outbreaks Cited; State Must Increase Patrols

Marcellus Gas Pipeline’s Cheap Path Through Jersey Parklands

Paltry $45,000 for 24-Year Lease on $2 Billion Pipeline Up for Quick Approval

Christie Cuts Jeopardize Jersey Shellfish Safety

New FDA Report Details Risks to State’s Billion Dollar Shellfish Industry

New Jersey Forfeits Millions on Park Leases and Concessions

Lapsed Leases, Below Market Rates and Sweetheart Deals Give Corporations Breaks

New Jersey Slashes Pollution Enforcement

Plummeting Fines and Fees Will Shortchange Future Enforcement Budgets

New Jersey Toxic Clean-Up Priorities Miss Public Health Mark

Belated DEP Toxic Site Priority System Ignores Vapor Intrusion and Migration

Jersey Rushes Science Board Names to Beat Court Order

DEP Science Advisory Board Studded with Industry Employees and Consultants

Tighter New Jersey Drinking Water Standards in Oblivion

Drinking Water Institute Chair Resigns in Frustration; Successor to be Announced

Rationale for New Jersey Water Quality Delay Is Bogus

Commissioner Claim of Imminent EPA Perchlorate Action Contradicted by E-Mails

Christie to Axe Jersey Pollution and Public Health Rules

“Red Tape Review Group” Issues Hit List of Regulations to Toss or Water Down

Christie Shreds New Jersey Climate Change Programs

Kills Emission Reporting, Diverts Green Energy Fund & Defunds Climate Office

Christie Outlines Radical Eco-Rollback in New Jersey

Privatization Specialist Tapped to Head Department of Environmental Protection

Christie Deep-Sixes New Jersey Perchlorate Standard

“Red Tape” Review Runs Out Clock on Rocket Fuel in Drinking Water Limit

Court Orders Release of New Jersey Science Board Nominees

Successful Open Records Suit to Reveal Industry Sponsorship of Science Board Picks

New Jersey Downplays Disturbing Air Toxics Study

DEP Mounts Messaging Campaign to Minimize Risk Findings in Paterson

New Jersey Closing Its Nose to Vapor Intrusion Crisis

Vapor Intrusion Rules Cast into Regulatory Limbo as Horror Stories Multiply

Will New Jersey Open up Environmental Decision-Making?

Corzine Denial of DEP Transparency Rules Creates Opportunity for Christie

New Jersey Environmental Agency Wrestles With Transparency

Proposed PEER Openness Rules Being Studied for “Feasibility and Practicality”

Industry Pushes Jersey Governor’s Button on Wind Power Permit

String-Pulling to Keep Federal Stimulus Dollars by Shelving Eco-Study Requirements

Industry Moves to Take Over Jersey Eco-Science Board

DEP Sued to Force Release of Lobbying Messages for Industry-Backed Scientists

Toxic New Jersey Elementary School Finally Wins Relief

Vapor Intrusion Controls May End Three-Year Ordeal at Atlantic Highlands

Political Arm Twisting for Massive Delaware Bay Wind Farm

New Jersey under Pressure to Lift Ban on Wind Turbines in Migratory Bird Flyway

EPA Audit Rips New Jersey DEP Performance

Corrective Actions Never Implemented for Toxic, Wetlands and Other Programs
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