Government Records New York: Where to Obtain Government Records for the State of New York?
The United States has always had a robust tradition of government transparency and accountability. Carrying forward that tradition and further strengthening is the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). This law gives an individual the right to access and examine any federal agency record barring a few exceptions.
Similarly, New York State is committed to helping people get easier and quicker access to public records. For this purpose, FOIL, Article 6, Sections 84-90 of the New York State Public Officers Law grants people the right to request access to government records that are taken care of by the different government agencies.
A government record is quite a broad term and can include any data that is maintained by a government agency in varied forms like- reports, memos, books, statements, files, manuals, drawings, photographs, films, disks or even codes. To request any government record an individual needs to simply fill out the FOIL NY form which is available at- https://www.dos.ny.gov/about/foil.html. This form can be mailed directly to New York’s Department of State, emailed, faxed or even presented in person at their offices.
Alternatively, you can also make a FOIL request for records at the Open Records Portal which is applicable for all NYC agencies at- https://a860-openrecords.nyc.gov/request/new. So, via FOIL there are now plenty of ways to reach out to government agencies and request a public record without even having to step into any agency’s office.
The NY State Department maintains a mammoth amount of records pertaining to different areas of governance like the Athletic Commission, Community Services, Fiscal Management, Local Government and Planning, and Development to name a few. Once you submit a FOIL request you are entitled to receive a response from the relevant agency in five business days.
The agency might hand over the requested document to you or it might deny access to you or it might simply send a confirmation of your request since some records need to be collected from different places and may take up more time than usual. You also have recourse against any agency’s rejection of your record request. You can submit an appeal against such a decision to the Records Appeal Officer. Some records might also incur a small fee if copies are requested to be made.
New York State Records
The NY State has another online platform you can utilize to access government records. It’s aptly named ‘Instant Access’ and it holds records of New York State, County, and Municipal. More than 300 million records are available here including court records, marriage, and divorce records, arrest records, lawsuits, etc. Thanks to digitization some of these records are from as long ago as the 1850s. The data included here are collected from all the 62 counties of the NY State. Therefore, it is a very comprehensive record storehouse.
By equipping the general public with government records, they can obtain swiftly mostly through electronic access, the NY State has taken a significant step towards increasing public oversight on governmental agencies. Needless to say, it is also essential for maintaining a healthy democracy.
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