Understanding the Freedom of Information Law in New York

The Freedom of Information Act (“FOIL”), Article 6 (sections 84 to 90) of the New York State Public Officials Act, is a law that establishes the public's right to access records maintained by government agencies, with certain exceptions. This law provides access rights to records that reflect government decisions and policies that affect the lives of all New Yorkers. Every New York State or municipal department, board, office, division, commission, committee, public authority, public corporation, council, office, or other governmental entity in New York State or municipal that performs a governmental or proprietary function is subject to the Act. The appointment of one or more records access officers shall not be interpreted to prohibit officials who in the past have been authorized to make records or information available to the public from continuing to do so. Each agency must create a payroll record that indicates the name, address of the public office, position, and salary of each official or employee of the agency.

In addition, each agency will accept requests for public access to the records and submit the records during all the hours when they are open to the public. Any such request shall identify in writing the record or part of it that is supposed to be a trade secret and shall indicate the reasons why such record or part of it should be excluded from public disclosure. Each agency will maintain a reasonably detailed updated list, by subject, of all records in its possession, regardless of whether the records are available or not in accordance with subdivision 2 of section 87 of the Public Officials Act. Agency staff shall provide the public with the information and records required by the Freedom of Information Act, as well as records that are otherwise available by law. If you are looking for records on aspects of OSC operations, you can find them on the Open Book New York page. Any conflict between the laws governing public access to records shall be interpreted in favor of the widest possible availability of public records.

The governing body of a public corporation or the director, executive director, or governing body of other agencies shall resolve appeals or appoint a person or body to hear appeals related to the denial of access to records under the Freedom of Information Act. All agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act, provided that they have the ability to receive requests for records from the public and transmit them by email, are required to do so. Requests for public access to the records will be accepted and records will be submitted during all regular opening hours to the public. According to FOIL, an agency must make records available to the public for inspection and copying, except to the extent that they fall within one or more reasons for denial.

Rory Rabinovich
Rory Rabinovich

Hardcore beer fanatic. Avid zombie lover. Certified zombie aficionado. Infuriatingly humble social media scholar. Passionate pop culture buff.

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