The New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), passed in 1974, created the legal framework for opening government information to the public. Today, the open data initiatives in New York State and City are taking FOIL one step further, by asking government agencies to proactively publish information.

Reinvent Albany has examined the FOIL logs of dozens of state and city agencies to determine what government records the public most wants published. Reinvent Albany has pushed for the use of FOIL to guide open data efforts for years. Beginning with our founding in 2010, in our Executive Orders report, we have advocated for the linking of FOIL and open data.

Our research into FOIL has been presented to the Federal FOIA Advisory Committee, as well as its Proactive Disclosure Subcommittee. In addition, the National Freedom of Information Coalition is supportive of our research, and FOIL-powered open data disclosure was recently announced by New York City’s Office of Data Analytics.

See our report, Listening to FOIL, for an example of how FOIL can power open data release.