The Freedom of Information Law (under §87 and §89 of the New York State Public Officers Law) is New York State's principal statute on providing the public with access to government records. The Personal Privacy Protection Law (Public Officers Law Article 6-a) relates to disclosure of personal information maintained by State agencies. F.O.I.L.S are accepted by the City Clerk as the City's Records Access Officer. The RAO is responsible for ensuring appropriate agency response to public requests for access to records.
"Record" means any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with, or for the department, in any physical form whatsoever including, but not limited to, reports, statements, examinations, memoranda, opinions, folders, files, books, manuals, pamphlets, forms, papers, designs, drawings, maps, photos, letters, microfilms, computer tapes or disks, rules regulations or codes.
All F.O.I.L.s are logged in, forwarded to the appropriate department and reviewed for discoverability under the law. That department is obligated to undertake a records search for the requested information. The information is then given back to the Records Access Officer who either sends it by mail or arranges for it to be picked up by the requestor. Some requests can involve hundreds of pages of documents and/or photographs, and research may be required by multiple City departments.
Fees as Imposed by New York State:
The fees for copies of records which shall not exceed twenty-five cents per photocopy not in excess of nine inches by fourteen inches, or the actual cost of reproducing any other record in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (c) of this subdivision, except when a different fee is otherwise prescribed by statute.
c. In determining the actual cost of reproducing a record, an agency may include only:
I. an amount equal to the hourly salary attributed to the lowest paid agency employee who has the necessary skill required to prepare a copy of the requested record;
II. The actual cost of the storage devices or media provided to the person making the request in complying with such request;
III. the actual cost to the agency of engaging an outside professional service to prepare a copy of a record, but only when an agency`s information technology equipment is inadequate to prepare a copy, if such service is used to prepare the copy; and
IV. Preparing a copy shall not include search time or administrative costs, and no fee shall be charged unless at least two hours of agency employee time is needed to prepare a copy of the record requested. A person requesting a record shall be informed of the estimated cost of preparing a copy of the record if more than two hours of an agency employee`s time is needed, or if an outside professional service would be retained to prepare a copy of the record.
How to Make a F.O.I.L. Request
If you wish to access a record under the F.O.I.L, you must make your request in writing. A link to the city's request form is provided for you below on the bottom of this page. Please provide as much detail as possible and be specific listing relevant dates, names, addresses, descriptions, etc. Please ensure that you have listed the correct department for which you are requesting the records from. Make sure that you state how you would prefer to have the copies given to you. You may have them mailed to you after the appropriate payment has been received by the Clerk's Office. You may arrange to pick them up from the Clerk or you may prefer to inspect all documents to determine which ones you may want to have copies made of or you may request electronic copies.
You may obtain a F.O.I.L. request form from the City Clerk's Office or on this page and submit it in person or you may send your inquiry via land mail, Fax or E-mail to: