Watchdog Commends New Online State Agency FOIL Form Governor’s Promised Steps to Reduce FOIL Delays


Statement on Governor Cuomo’s Open FOIL NY

Watchdog Commends New Online State Agency FOIL Form
Governor’s Promised Steps to Reduce FOIL Delays

“We support Governor Cuomo’s new online request form and the announcement that the NYS Department of Information Technology will give FOIL processing software to all agencies, and work to get more information and data online proactively.  The Governor is taking sensible steps to deal with huge agency FOIL delays and has laid the groundwork towards a more transparency and consistent FOIL process,”  said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany. (Governor’s announcement.)

Reinvent Albany is the New York representative of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, and led the campaign to pass a 2017 law that made it easier for the public to win attorney’s fees after successfully suing a government agency to release public records. The group played a key role in winning the creation of the NYC Open Records Portal, NYC Open Data Law, and NY State open data portal.

NY State Gets 100k FOIL Requests a Year
Based on an analysis of agency FOIL logs, Reinvent Albany estimates that New York State agencies get over 100,000 FOIL requests a year. (New York City agencies are reported to receive over 60,000 FOIL requests a year.) Government agencies have struggled to deal with the volume of FOIL requests fueled by online request forms. Well managed governments have responded by putting more information and data online proactively, including via open data portals and online “Reading rooms” and have equipped FOIL officers with software that makes redacting sensitive public records easier and improves workflow. Centralized FOIL processing platforms like the just announced Open FOIL NY, also make it easier for agency officials to see what public records are being frequently requested and to put those records online.

What is “Open FOIL?”
Reinvent Albany strongly supports an “Open FOIL” process that puts non-personal FOIL requests and responses online in an open data format, to ensure the FOIL process itself is transparent and help the public gets the maximum value from public records. Open FOIL is also called “release to one, release to all,” meaning the entire public can see the response to one person’s request for non-personal public records.

Some Examples of “OpenFOIL” Platforms
Federal FOIAonline 3.0
Port Authority
Montgomery County Maryland
NYC OpenRecords

Reinvent Albany Reports on FOIL
Listening to FOIL
Beyond Magic Markers
Listening to FOIL 2