Money in Politics in NY: Jun. 27 Edition

Senate Coalition Disintegrates

As the legislative session came to a close last week, comprehensive campaign finance reform remained stalled. Opposition to reform was led by Republicans in the state Senate. This week, the breakaway Democrats who had formed a coalition with Republicans to control the Senate announced plans to abandon the arrangement. The leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, Sen. Jeffrey Klein, said the IDC would form a coalition with Democrats next year. The change is expected to have implications for public campaign financing and other reforms left on the table at the end of this year’s session. Governor Cuomo has renewed his pledge to “work to elect people who support” the progressive agenda this election season. Whether the planned Democrat-IDC coalition has a majority in the chamber next year will depend on the outcome of the November elections. Read more…

Money in Politics in NY: Jun 20 Edition

The Daily Gazette: New York’s 2014 Legislative Session a Failure

The New York State legislative session is ending this week without major progress on big-ticket issues such as campaign finance reform, minimum wage, and the women’s equality agenda. The Daily Gazette called the session a “big flop.” The upstate newspaper said that the failure to pass campaign finance reform would allow big money to continue “to influence elections at the expense of worthy candidates who don’t have access to large donors.” Although the legislature had several months to work to find solutions to these pressing concerns, they largely failed to address them. Read more…

Putting FOIL Online Will Massively Reduce NYC FOIL Costs

This is the third in a series of posts describing the transparency, accountability, and financial benefits of an Open FOIL system for New York City. Our full report is titled Beyond Magic Markers, and is available here.

We estimate that, at minimum, New York City government spends $20 million annually processing FOIL requests; this is based on a conservative estimate of 50,000 annual FOIL requests, and a low average cost of $400 per FOIL request. This is an estimate because New York City (like the state) gathers no information about agency FOIL requests.

An online Open FOIL system like federal government’s,  or  Oakland’s, will save New York City roughly $13 million per year.

Online FOIL processing systems reduce the costs of processing FOIL requests in two ways. First, they reduce the time it takes agency personnel to track and respond to each request. Second, they reduce the number of requests agencies receive. Online systems reduce requests by helping agencies easily identify and upload frequently requested information to online “reading rooms” or open data portals where that information is easy for the public to find. Read more…

Beyond Magic Markers: NYC Spends $400 Per FOIL Request

This is the second in a series of posts describing the transparency, accountability, and financial benefits of an Open FOIL system for New York City. Our full report is titled Beyond Magic Markers, and is available here.

FOIA Costs Chart

Based on the detailed cost tracking done by the U.S. and U.K. governments, as well as a handful of U.S. cities, we estimate that New York City spends at least $400 per FOIL request – probably much more. The City does not track the cost of processing FOIL requests, or even how many requests it receives.

Unlike Federal government or the United Kingdom’s government, few – if any – New York City agencies use even basic FOIL processing software that would make it easier to determine FOIL costs. Based on the range of costs on the chart below, we believe our estimate is conservative, and the real cost per FOIL is likely much higher. Read more…

OpenFOIL Memo in Support