The New York State Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) provides the public with the right to access certain government records and is part of the New York State Public Officers Law. See NY Public Officers Law §§ 84-90.
A request can be made pursuant to FOIL to examine or obtain copies of records that are maintained in some electronic or physical format. If a record does not exist FOIL does not mandate that the record be created nor does FOIL require an agency to answer questions in regard to it. Additionally, certain records are exempt under FOIL, such as, but not limited to, records that would constitute an unwarranted violation of an individual’s privacy if disclosed, records that would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations, records of inter-agency and intra-agency materials, or records that are specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute.
In accordance with the White Plains Municipal Code Sec. 2-2-17, the Mayor designates various individuals as records access officers. FOIL requests must be directed to the department that maintains the requested documents and should be addressed to the appropriate records access officer. Listing of City of White Plains records access officers (PDF).
If, because of extraordinary circumstances, more than five (5) business days are required to respond to a request, the request shall be acknowledged within five (5) business days of receipt. The acknowledgement shall state the reason for delay and estimate the date when a reply will be made (Mun. Code Sec. 2-2-21). The response will indicate the authorized charges that must be submitted prior to production of the documents. The fee for reproducing a record may include the actual cost of reproduction, the cost of the storage device or media, the hourly salary for employee time used in reproducing the record, or the fee of an outside professional service engaged to reproduce the record. If the request is made to mail the documents, an additional postage fee will be charged.
To facilitate the public’s access to records pursuant to FOIL, the City has created a standardized form for submission to the appropriate city department, board or commission. FOIL request form. Requests pursuant to FOIL may be sent via regular mail or facsimile to the department in question. The Departmental Directory provides contact information for each city department. The request must reasonably describe the records being sought or it may be rejected. If a request is denied, the reason for the denial will be provided.