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New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)

New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)
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Overview

The Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”), Article 6 (Sections 84-90) of the NYS Public Officers Law, provides the public the right to access records maintained by government agencies with certain exceptions. 

“Record” means any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with, or for this agency, 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.

Learn more about records access and Open FOIL NY.

Request Records

Use the Open FOIL NY online form

SUBMIT a FOIL Request Online

Mail a written request to:
Records Access Officer
New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
44 Holland Avenue
Albany, NY 12229

Fax a written request to: (518) 474-7382

Submit a request for records in person:

Location Information/Instructions: Our main offices are located at 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, New York 12229. Upon entering the main entrance of the building, advise security staff that you would like to request records. Security staff will collect your request form and advise the Records Access Office. Please be advised records require review prior to disclosure. As a result, documents and records will not be immediately available.

 

FOIL Process

Within five (5) business days of the receipt of a written request for a record reasonably described, we will send you a letter either: making such record available; denying such request in writing; or furnishing a written acknowledgment of the receipt of such request. If you have not received a letter within five business days, please contact us at (518) 474-7700 or [email protected]

An acknowledgment letter will provide you with an estimate of when the records you request will be available, which will be reasonable under the circumstances of the request. This date is determined by the number of documents you request, their format, their availability, the time it takes to redact any information that cannot be disclosed pursuant to FOIL, the time it takes to assemble the documents and other factors.

If the records you request require a fee to be paid, you will be notified prior to the records being released to you. Unless a different fee is otherwise prescribed by statute, Public Officers Law §87(1) authorizes an agency to charge a fee of 25¢ per copy for copies of records up 9”x 14”, or the actual cost of reproducing a record. In determining the actual cost of producing a record, an agency may include only:

  • an amount equal to the hourly salary attributed to the lowest paid agency employee who has the necessary skill required to prepare the requested record(s), if at least two hours of agency employee time is needed to prepare a copy of the record(s) requested;
  • the actual cost of the storage devices or media provided to the person making the request in complying with such request; and,
  • 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.

 

Once the requested records are prepared, you may receive the records via e-mail, fax, paper, CD/DVD, or USB. Records are available for inspection, by appointment, on business days between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Records Access Office, 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, NY 12229. You may schedule an appointment for in-person inspection of records by calling (518) 474-7700.

Subject Matter List

The following is a current list of records, by subject matter, that are maintained by this agency. Some of the listed records may be exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law.

Right to Appeal

Under provisions of the Public Officers Law you may appeal a FOIL determination. If you desire to submit such an appeal, you must do so within 30 days of the written response to your FOIL request. Please include a copy of the original request for records and a copy of the FOIL response letter you received along with your appeal letter to:

FOIL Appeals Officer
Office of Counsel
NYS OPWDD
44 Holland Avenue
Albany, NY 12229

Or by fax: (518) 474-7382 or email: [email protected]


You will be informed in writing of the decision within ten business days of our receipt of such an appeal. Please indicate the FOIL Request Number when corresponding on this subject.

Helpful Tips

For more information about FOIL, please visit the New York State Committee on Open Government’s website.

When submitting a FOIL request:

  • Be as specific as possible in describing the requested records. Include relevant dates, names, descriptions, etc. See suggested language for a FOIL request from the Committee on Open Government.
  • Specify whether you would like to inspect the records or have copies of the records sent to you.
  • If records are available, specify how you want them sent, i.e., via US mail, e-mail or fax. We may choose to send the records by U.S. mail, if you have requested a large volume of records, for security or other important reasons. We will notify you of any charge for reproducing such records before they are sent to you.
  • Include your e-mail, mailing address and fax number, as well as a telephone number where you can be reached during business hours, if it is necessary to clarify your request.
  • Please keep in mind that OPWDD is not required to create a new record in response to FOIL requests and is not required to provide information in response to questions which require an analysis of the information.
  • To request YOUR records: Read OPWDD’s summary regarding your privacy rights.

 

Why You May be Denied Access to a Record
Certain records, or portions of records, are not available under FOIL. These include:

  • Clinical records maintained by OPWDD that relate to the care and treatment of people with developmental disabilities. Such records, and any other records that tend to identify individuals seeking or receiving services through OPWDD, are confidential pursuant to New York State Mental Hygiene Law section 33.13 and the federal HIPAA Privacy Rule. These records are not available pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law because they are specifically exempted from disclosure under state or federal statute (see Public Officer’s Law section 87(2)(a));
  • Other records specifically exempted from disclosure under state or federal statute (see Public Officer’s Law section 87(2)(a));
  • Records, if disclosed, that would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy (see Public Officer’s Law section 87(2)(b));
  • Records that are inter-agency or intra-agency materials which are not statistical or factual tabulations or data, instructions to staff which affect the public or are final agency policies or determinations, are external audits, including audits performed by the comptroller and the federal government or computer codes (see Public Officer’s Law section 87(2)(g)); or
  • Records, if disclosed, would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining positions (see Public Officer’s Law section 87(2)(c)).
  • If your request for records is denied in whole or in part, you will be notified of the reason in writing and advised of your right to appeal such denial.