Resources: Basics of NYS Government
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The Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) ensures public access to all records and documents maintained by public agencies and the legislature, with some exceptions designed to protect privacy, safety and other important governmental interests.
FOIL was designed to enhance transparency and government accountability by requiring publication or disclosure of public information, and to assist the public and members of the media in gaining access to this information.
Members of the public may view records at no charge, or request copies of records. The agency may charge as much as 25 cents per page for requested records. Charges for records other than paper copies are based on the actual cost of reproduction. Requests should be directed to the "Records Access Officer" of the agency that maintains the desired records.
Requests may also be made electronically. If you’d like to make a FOIL request via email, check the agency’s website to see if there is a designated email address for the agency’s Records Officer, and indicate in the subject line of your email that it is a "FOIL Request." The Committee on Open Government provides information to assist you in drafting your request, available at http://www.dos.ny.gov/coog/index.html.
An agency must acknowledge your request within 5 business days and provide you with an approximate date by which they may respond to your request. If your request has not been reasonably described, the agency may contact you and request that you clarify your request.
The FOIL also provides a process to appeal the denial of a request. Within 30 days of a denial, you may appeal to the agency’s FOIL Appeals Officer or another officer designated to hear FOIL appeals. If the agency denies or does not determine the appeal within 10 days, you may initiate further judicial proceedings to challenge the denial of access.
For more information on the Freedom of Information Law, the subject matter covered by the law, and instructions on how to access public records, visit the Committee on Open Government’s Freedom of Information Law FAQs: http://www.dos.ny.gov/coog/freedomfaq.html
Contact information for New York State Agencies can be found on the Governor’s website at http://www.nysegov.com/citGuide.cfm?superCat=454&cat=455