Governor Hochul Announces New Actions to Increase Transparency and Access to Public Records

Office of Information Technology Services Takes Next Step in Procurement Process for New Software to Expeditiously Process FOIL Requests; Hochul Administration Has Committed to Improving FOIL Process and Completed More FOIL Requests Since Taking Office Less Than Seven Months Ago Than Had Been Processed In All Of 2019 Or All Of 2020 Based On Preliminary Data; Open FOIL RFQ https://its.ny.gov/document/open-foil-rfq
Monday, March 14, 2022

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that New York State is moving forward with improvements to the process of responding to public records requests. Building on efforts announced in October to streamline the Freedom of Information Law process, including directing agencies to proactively post commonly-requested documents online and allowing agencies to respond to FOIL requests without Executive Chamber review, Governor Hochul has directed the New York State Office of Information Technology Services to issue a Request for Quotes to secure a software platform which will accelerate and streamline the State's process for receiving, processing and responding to FOIL requests. The announcement comes during Sunshine Week, an opportunity to spotlight efforts to increase openness and transparency in government.  

"On my first day in office, I pledged to turn the page on the old ways of Albany and restore New Yorkers' faith in their government," Governor Hochul said."We're taking meaningful action to streamline the process to access public records, so journalists and members of the public can more easily access information to which they are entitled. While there's always more work to do, I'm proud of the steps my administration has taken to increase transparency and accountability in New York State government."  

In October 2021, Governor Hochul announced improvements to the FOIL process, with the goal of providing more public records on a faster timeline and reducing the backlog of thousands of FOIL requests inherited by theHochul Administration. Agencies are no longer required to send FOIL responses to the Executive Chamber for review, but instead will process FOIL requests directly through their agency's General Counsel. Agencies are also required to take steps to identify and publicly post frequently requested documents and documents that have public significance, so interested parties can find relevant information without needing to file a FOIL request. The Executive Chamber is reviewing agency requests to fill FOIL staffing and software capacity needs, as well as provide FOIL trainings to all state agencies.  

Based on preliminary data, more than 400 FOIL requests have been processed and completed by the Executive Chamber since Governor Hochul took office. The Hochul Administration has processed and completed more FOIL requests over the past seven months than in all of 2019 (323 requests completed) and all of 2020 (368 requests completed).  

Building on this progress, the Office of Information Technology Services today took the next step in the procurement process by issuing an RFQ for a software platform which will serve to accelerate and streamline the State's process for receiving, processing and responding to FOIL requests. Such a software platform will be a major step toward increasing transparency and timely access to public records. The new software platform will use technology to streamline the receipt, processing and response to FOIL requests, thus allowing a more efficient and expeditious process. Now that the RFQ is issued, ITS expects a contract to be finalized in the coming weeks.  

NYS Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) Chief Information Officer Angelo "Tony" Riddick said, "Today's announcement is a major step forward for all New Yorkers who believe that state government should be open, honest, transparent and accountable. I commend Governor Hochul for her commitment to breaking down the barriers to sharing information and data with the public in a timely way. ITS is proud to assist the Governor in executing her vision of what is possible when openness and transparency becomes the rule and not the exception."

This announcement is the latest effort from Governor Hochul to increase transparency, accountability and ethics in state government. In her State of the State address, Governor Hochul announced proposals to reform the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and institute term limits and outside income bans for statewide elected officials. Weeks after taking office, Governor Hochul publicly released transparency plans from more than 70 state agencies, recusal policies for top State officials, and instituted new human resources policies to protect employees across state government and within the Executive Chamber from discrimination and harassment.  

About ITS

The New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) was created in 2012 to transform IT services in an effort to make New York State government work smarter for its citizens and enable the state to be accessible for businesses through the use of technology. ITS provides statewide IT strategic direction, directs IT policy and delivers centralized IT products and services that support the mission of the State. ITS operates data centers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to support statewide mission-critical applications for over 50 Agencies, over 17 million citizen accounts, 120,000 employee accounts, 60,000 phones, 99,000 desktops and laptops, and 3,433 Virtual Desktop remote connections. ITS operates a secure network of over 1,600 miles of fiber to deliver telecommunications, Internet and Intranet services, enterprise email systems and support, IT training, networking, data storage and processing to State government entities in addition to developing new services in support of citizens, businesses and State Agencies.

For more information, visit https://its.ny.gov and follow us on Twitter @nysits.

###