Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of Open FOIL NY, a new website that provides easy and unparalleled access to public records in New York. Open FOIL NY is a convenient and centralized online location to file Freedom of Information Law requests with 59 New York State agencies and public authorities. For the first time in New York, the public has a uniform method to submit requests for government records through a single website. In addition, New York is the first state in the nation to provide an open-access records request webform that allows the requester to select multiple state agencies for a single records request.
"Open FOIL NY is a giant leap forward, bringing the Freedom of Information Law into the 21st century," Governor Cuomo said. "This initiative will build on the success of Open NY—expanding our award-winning platform to further enhance interaction between State government and the public."
In addition to providing a single point of access to request records from New York State agencies and authorities, Open FOIL NY offers many additional features and benefits including:
- An open-access online form to request records from up to three agencies simultaneously, leading the nation in providing easy public access to multiple state agencies;
- Access to FOIL resources and contact information for 59 State executive agencies and authorities, and information on New York State's Freedom of Information Law; and
- Direct access to a growing body of online information and resources, including agency reading rooms and Open Data NY.
No other state provides such a comprehensive experience for the public to easily access multiple agencies, government records and data. Prior to the launch of Open FOIL NY, there was no centralized location to obtain agency-specific information, no standardized form, and the FOIL experience varied from State agency to agency. Open FOIL NY now provides New Yorkers with a consistent and convenient experience for requesting public records and obtaining information.
Robert H. Samson, New York State Chief Information Officer said, "Technology plays a critical role in providing responsive constituent services, and Open FOIL NY is another example of how New York is employing modern practices to promote efficiency and transparency. The Office of Information Technology Services is proud to help advance Governor Cuomo's agenda to make government more accessible and facilitate improved relationships between New Yorkers and State agencies."
In the next phase of Open FOIL NY, State agencies will be able to use software designed and built by the Office of Information Technology Services to process records requests more efficiently. The computer program will be made available to State executive agencies and authorities on a rolling basis over the next 12 months, streamlining FOIL request processing and saving State resources by:
- Simplifying collection and review of agency records;
- Facilitating FOIL request processing; and
- Enabling quick identification of frequently requested records that should be considered for proactive public release.
In addition, individual agency FOIL websites will soon refresh their content to provide a more user-friendly interface and ensure consistency across State agencies.
Open FOIL NY will also include an online tracking system, which is planned to launch in early 2019. The system will enable users to submit, track, and receive digital records relating to their FOIL requests by creating a My Open FOIL NY account through my.ny.gov.
Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government, said, "This new FOIL website and access to documents will be revolutionary. The core purpose of FOIL is to make life easier and to streamline the public's access to documents and this new project will do just that. I applaud the administration's efforts towards accomplishing those goals."
Diane Kennedy, President of the NY News Publishers Association, said, "This new portal provides an accessible and responsive open door to New York State government. It provides easy access to the citizen who is new to requesting information from state agencies, and at the same time, a one-stop shop for journalists to explore records and data collected and published across state government. It provides proactive disclosure of public records which are of general interest, and also is designed to streamline the process of requesting records that may be of interest to individual citizens. The creation of a comprehensive user-friendly platform that will enhance government transparency is commendable."
Laura Ladd Bierman, Executive Director of League of Women Voters of NYS, said, "The League of Women Voters of New York State applauds Governor Cuomo for spearheading this innovative new website format to help New Yorkers submit Freedom of Information requests directly to government agencies. New York State's FOIL process can be confusing and difficult for those trying to access government documents. This new website will make requesting documents a faster and more uniform process. This convenient web form will save New Yorkers time and increase transparency in government."
Open FOIL NY was built by ITS in collaboration with the Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk and Compliance. To learn more about Governor Cuomo's Open NY initiatives, visit https://www.ny.gov/programs/open-ny.