The Records Access Office at the NYC DOE has been out of work for years.
Gotta stop.Gotta. Betsy Combier
Editorial: Public shouldn't have to wait this long for documents
|Assemblyman David Buchwald|
Assemblyman Buchwald Passes Bill to Increase Transparency in Government
“An honorable government is open to the people it serves – where citizens can freely access the information they seek to better understand how policies are set and their tax dollars are being spent,” Assemblyman Buchwald stated. “This bill aims to make the FOIL process speedier so that government is more accountable to our families. I am pleased that the State Assembly has once again passed this important piece of legislation.”
The bill creates an expedited process for determining appeals of FOIL decisions. Under the present law, a government agency’s denial of request for records may be overturned by a court, but the government agency can file a notice of appeal and has up to nine months to perfect the appeal. This further delay, in many circumstances, is unfair and restricts an individual’s rights. The delaying of disclosure, through the appeals process, may make moot the individual’s FOIL request and functionally deny them the timely access to get the documents they need. In addition, a speedier resolution reduces court costs borne by all parties, including the taxpayers of New York.
“A painful issue involves the reality that access delayed is access denied,” said Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government for the Department of State. “This legislation would preclude government agencies from delaying disclosure unnecessarily and requiring them to make decisions quickly regarding appeals when the Supreme Court has determined that they must disclose their records.”
Assemblyman Buchwald’s bill was passed by a vote of 147-0 in conjunction with Sunshine Week, a national bipartisan effort highlighting the importance of open government, which is celebrated around President James Madison’s birthday. This year it runs from March 15 through 21. “It’s our obligation as representatives to guarantee that all New Yorkers have access to government decision-making processes so that they can be active participants,” Assemblyman Buchwald affirmed.
This measure was one of the first bills Assemblyman Buchwald passed as a newly elected official in 2013. This year, he’s continuing his long standing pledge to advocate for an open government and urges the State Senate to follow suit and help enact these measures into law. The bill has bipartisan support in both houses, with Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst) and Westchester’s own Senator George Latimer (D-Rye) having sponsored the bill in the State Senate. The Senate’s identical version of the bill (S.1531) has yet to pass this year.