PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW
Laws 1909, Chap. 51.

AN ACT in relation to public officers, constituting chapter forty-
seven of the consolidated laws.

Became a law February 17, 1909, with the approval of the
Governor. Passed, three-fifths being present.

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and
Assembly, do enact as follows:

CHAPTER 47 OF THE CONSOLIDATED LAWS
PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW

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ARTICLE 6

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW

Section        84.  Legislative declaration.

               85.  Short title.

               86.  Definitions.

               87.  Access to agency records.

               88.  Access to state legislative records.

               89.  General provisions relating to access to
                    records; certain cases.

               90.  Severability.

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Sec. 84.  Legislative declaration.

The legislature hereby finds that a free society is maintained
when government is responsive and responsible to the public, and
when the public is aware of governmental actions. The more open a
government is with its citizenry, the greater the understanding
and participation of the public in government.

As state and local government services increase and public
problems become more sophisticated and complex and therefore
harder to solve, and with the resultant increase in revenues and
expenditures, it is incumbent upon the state and its localities
to extend public accountability wherever and whenever feasible.

The people's right to know the process of governmental decision-
making and to review the documents and statistics leading to
determinations is basic to our society. Access to such
information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak
of secrecy or confidentiality.

The legislature therefore declares that government is the
public's business and that the public, individually and
collectively and represented by a free press, should have access
to the records of government in accordance with the provisions of
this article.


Sec. 85.  Short title.

This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Freedom of
Information Law."


Sec. 86.  Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires otherwise:

1.   "Judiciary" means the courts of the state, including any
     municipal or district court, whether or not of record.

2.   "State legislature" means the legislature of the state of
     New York, including any committee, subcommittee, joint
     committee, select committee, or commission thereof.

3.   "Agency" means any state or municipal department, board,
     bureau, division, commission, committee, public authority,
     public corporation, council, office or other governmental
     entity performing a governmental or proprietary function for
     the state or any one or more municipalities thereof, except
     the judiciary or the state legislature.

4.   "Record" means any information kept, held, filed, produced
     or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the state
     legislature, 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 discs, rules,
     regulations or codes.


Section 87.    Access to agency records.

1.   (a)  Within sixty days after the effective date of this
          article, the governing body of each public corporation
          shall promulgate uniform rules and regulations for all
          agencies in such public corporation pursuant to such
          general rules and regulations as may be promulgated by
          the committee on open government in conformity with the
          provisions of this article, pertaining to the
          administration of this article.

     (b)  Each agency shall promulgate rules and regulations, in
          conformity with this article and applicable rules and
          regulations promulgated pursuant to the provisions of
          paragraph (a) of this subdivision, and pursuant to such
          general rules and regulations as may be promulgated by
          the committee on open government in conformity with the
          provisions of this article, pertaining to the
          availability of records and procedures to be followed,
          including, but not limited to:

          i.   the times and places such records are available;

          ii.  the persons from whom such records may be
               obtained, and

          iii. the fees for copies of records which shall not
               exceed twenty-five cents per photocopy not in
               excess of nine inches by fourteen inches, or the
               actual cost of reproducing any other record,
               except when a different fee is otherwise
               prescribed by statute.

2.   Each agency shall, in accordance with its published rules,
     make available for public inspection and copying all
     records, except that such agency may deny access to records
     or portions thereof that:

     (a)  are specifically exempted from disclosure by state or
          federal statute;

     (b)  if disclosed would constitute an unwarranted invasion
          of personal privacy under the provisions of subdivision
          two of section eighty-nine of this article;

     (c)  if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract
          awards or collective bargaining negotiations;

     (d)  are trade secrets or are submitted to an agency by a
          commercial enterprise or derived from information
          obtained from a commercial enterprise and which if
          disclosed would cause substantial injury to the
          competitive position of the subject enterprise;

     (e)  are compiled for law enforcement purposes and which, if
          disclosed, would:

          i.   interfere with law enforcement investigations or
               judicial proceedings;

          ii.  deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or
               impartial adjudication;

          iii. identify a confidential source or disclose
               confidential information relating to a criminal
               investigation; or

          iv.  reveal criminal investigative techniques or
               procedures, except routine techniques and
               procedures;

     (f)  if disclosed would endanger the life or safety of any
          person;

     (g)  are inter-agency or intra-agency materials which are
          not:

          i.   statistical or factual tabulations or data;

          ii.  instructions to staff that affect the public;

          iii. final agency policy or determinations; or

          *iv. external audits, including but not limited to
               audits performed by the comptroller and the
               federal government; or

          * NB Repealed 99/01/01

     (h)  are examination questions or answers which are
          requested prior to the final administration of such
          questions.

     (i)  are computer access codes.

     *(j) are photographs, microphotographs, videotape or other
          recorded images prepared under authority of section
          eleven hundred eleven-a of the vehicle and traffic law.

     * NB Repealed 96/12/01

3.   Each agency shall maintain:

     (a)  a record of the final vote of each member in every
          agency proceeding in which the member votes;

     (b)  a record setting forth the name, public office address,
          title and salary of every officer or employee of the
          agency; and

     (c)  a reasonably detailed current list by subject matter,
          of all records in the possession of the agency, whether
          or not available under this article.

4.   (a)  Each state agency which maintains records
          containing trade secrets, to which access may be denied
          pursuant to paragraph (d) of subdivision two of this
          section, shall promulgate regulations in conformity
          with the provisions of subdivision five of section
          eighty-nine of this article pertaining to such records,
          including, but not limited to the following:

          (1)  the manner of identifying the records or parts;

          (2)  the manner of identifying persons within the
               agency to whose custody the records or parts will
               be charged and for whose inspection and study the
               records will be made available;

          (3)  the manner of safeguarding against any
               unauthorized access to the records.

     (b)  As used in this subdivision the term "agency" or "state
          agency" means only a state department, board, bureau,
          division, council or office and any public corporation
          the majority of whose members are appointed by the
          governor.


Section 88.    Access to state legislative records.

1.   The temporary president of the senate and the speaker of the
     assembly shall promulgate rules and regulations for their
     respective houses in conformity with the provisions of this
     article, pertaining to the availability, location and nature
     of records, including, but not limited to:

     (a)  the times and places such records are available;

     (b)  the persons from whom such records may be obtained;

     (c)  the fees for copies of such records, which shall not
          exceed twenty-five cents per photocopy not in excess of
          nine inches by fourteen inches, or the actual cost of
          reproducing any other record, except when a different
          fee is otherwise prescribed by law.

2.   The state legislature shall, in accordance with its
     published rules, make available for public inspection and
     copying:

     (a)  bills and amendments thereto, fiscal notes,
          introducers' bill memoranda, resolutions and amendments
          thereto, and index records;

     (b)  messages received from the governor or the other house
          of the legislature, and home rule messages;

     (c)  legislative notification of the proposed adoption of
          rules by an agency;

     (d)  transcripts or minutes, if prepared, and journal
          records of public sessions including meetings of
          committees and subcommittees and public hearings, with
          the records of attendance of members thereat and
          records of any votes taken;

     (e)  internal or external audits and statistical or factual
          tabulations of, or with respect to, material otherwise
          available for public inspection and copying pursuant to
          this section or any other applicable provision of law;

     (f)  administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff
          that affect members of the public;

     (g)  final reports and formal opinions submitted to the
          legislature;

     (h)  final reports or recommendations and minority or
          dissenting reports and opinions of members of
          committees, subcommittees, or commissions of the
          legislature;

     *(j) external audits conducted pursuant to section ninety-
          two of the legislative law and schedules issued
          pursuant to subdivision two of section ninety of the
          legislative law;

     * NB Repealed 99/01/01

     *(j) any other files, records, papers or documents required
          by law to be made available for public inspection and
          copying.

     * NB Effective 99/01/01

     *(k) any other files, records, papers or documents required
          by law to be made available for public inspection and
          copying.

     * NB Repealed Effective 99/01/01

3.   Each house shall maintain and make available for public
     inspection and copying: (a) a record of votes of each member
     in every session and every committee and subcommittee
     meeting in which the member votes;

     (b)  a record setting forth the name, public office address,
          title, and salary of every officer or employee; and

     (c)  a current list, reasonably detailed, by subject matter
          of any records required to be made available for public
          inspection and copying pursuant to this section.


Section 89.    General provisions relating to access to records;
               certain cases.

The provisions of this section apply to access to all records,
except as hereinafter specified:

1.   (a)  The committee on open government is continued and
          shall consist of the lieutenant governor or the
          delegate of such officer, the secretary of state or the
          delegate of such officer, whose office shall act as
          secretariat for the committee, the commissioner of the
          office of general services or the delegate of such
          officer, the director of the budget or the delegate of
          such officer, and seven other persons, none of whom
          shall hold any other state or local public office
          except the representative of local governments as set
          forth herein, to be appointed as follows: five by the
          governor, at least two of whom are or have been
          representatives of the news media, one of whom shall be
          a representative of local government who, at the time
          of appointment, is serving as a duly elected officer of
          a local government, one by the temporary president of
          the senate, and one by the speaker of the assembly. The
          persons appointed by the temporary president of the
          senate and the speaker of the assembly shall be
          appointed to serve, respectively, until the expiration
          of the terms of office of the temporary president and
          the speaker to which the temporary president and
          speaker were elected. The four persons presently
          serving by appointment of the governor for fixed terms
          shall continue to serve until the expiration of their
          respective terms. Thereafter, their respective
          successors shall be appointed for terms of four years.
          The member representing local government shall be
          appointed for a term of four years, so long as such
          member shall remain a duly elected officer of a local
          government. The committee shall hold no less than two
          meetings annually, but may meet at any time. The
          members of the committee shall be entitled to
          reimbursement for actual expenses incurred in the
          discharge of their duties.

     (b)  The committee shall:

          i.   furnish to any agency advisory guidelines,
               opinions or other appropriate information
               regarding this article;

          ii.  furnish to any person advisory opinions or other
               appropriate information regarding this article;

          iii. promulgate rules and regulations with respect to
               the implementation of subdivision one and
               paragraph (c) of subdivision three of section
               eighty-seven of this article;

          iv.  request from any agency such assistance, services
               and information as will enable the committee to
               effectively carry out its powers and duties; and

          v.   report on its activities and findings regarding
               articles six and seven of this chapter, including
               recommendations for changes in the law, to the
               governor and the legislature annually, on or
               before December fifteenth.

2.   (a)  The committee on public access to records may
          promulgate guidelines regarding deletion of identifying
          details or withholding of records otherwise available
          under this article to prevent unwarranted invasions of
          personal privacy. In the absence of such guidelines, an
          agency may delete identifying details when it makes
          records available.

     (b)  An unwarranted invasion of personal privacy includes,
          but shall not be limited to:

          i.   disclosure of employment, medical or credit
               histories or personal references of applicants for
               employment;

          ii.  disclosure of items involving the medical or
               personal records of a client or patient in a
               medical facility;

          iii. sale or release of lists of names and addresses if
               such lists would be used for commercial or fund-
               raising purposes;

          iv.  disclosure of information of a personal nature
               when disclosure would result in economic or
               personal hardship to the subject party and such
               information is not relevant to the work of the
               agency requesting or maintaining it; or

          v.   disclosure of information of a personal nature
               reported in confidence to an agency and not
               relevant to the ordinary work of such agency.

     (c)  Unless otherwise provided by this article, disclosure
          shall not be construed to constitute an unwarranted
          invasion of personal privacy pursuant to paragraphs (a)
          and (b) of this subdivision:

          i.   when identifying details are deleted;

          ii.  when the person to whom a record pertains consents
               in writing to disclosure;

          iii. when upon presenting reasonable proof of identity,
               a person seeks access to records pertaining to
               him.

2-a. Nothing in this article shall permit disclosure which
     constitutes an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy as
     defined in subdivision two of this section if such
     disclosure is prohibited under section ninety-six of this
     chapter.

3.   Each entity subject to the provisions of this article,
     within five business days of the receipt of a written
     request for a record reasonably described, shall make such
     record available to the person requesting it, deny such
     request in writing or furnish a written acknowledgement of
     the receipt of such request and a statement of the
     approximate date when such request will be granted or
     denied, including, where appropriate, a statement that
     access to the record will be determined in accordance with
     subdivision five of this section. Upon payment of, or offer
     to pay, the fee prescribed therefor, the entity shall
     provide a copy of such record and certify to the correctness
     of such copy if so requested, or as the case may be, shall
     certify that it does not have possession of such record or
     that such record cannot be found after diligent search.
     Nothing in this article shall be construed to require any
     entity to prepare any record not possessed or maintained by
     such entity except the records specified in subdivision
     three of section eighty-seven and subdivision three of
     section eighty-eight.

4.   (a)  Except as provided in subdivision five of this
          section, any person denied access to a record may
          within thirty days appeal in writing such denial to the
          head, chief executive or governing body of the entity,
          or the person therefor designated by such head, chief
          executive, or governing body, who shall within ten
          business days of the receipt of such appeal fully
          explain in writing to the person requesting the record
          the reasons for further denial, or provide access to
          the record sought. In addition, each agency shall
          immediately forward to the committee on open government
          a copy of such appeal when received by the agency and
          the ensuing determination thereon.

     (b)  Except as provided in subdivision five of this section,
          a person denied access to a record in an appeal
          determination under the provisions of paragraph (a) of
          this subdivision may bring a proceeding for review of
          such denial pursuant to article seventy-eight of the
          civil practice law and rules. In the event that access
          to any record is denied pursuant to the provisions of
          subdivision two of section eighty-seven of this
          article, the agency involved shall have the burden of
          proving that such record falls within the provisions of
          such subdivision two.

     (c)  The court in such a proceeding may assess, against such
          agency involved, reasonable attorney's fees and other
          litigation costs reasonably incurred by such person in
          any case under the provisions of this section in which
          such person has substantially prevailed, provided, that
          such attorney's fees and litigation costs may be
          recovered only where the court finds that:

          i.   the record involved was, in fact, of clearly
               significant interest to the general public; and

          ii.  the agency lacked a reasonable basis in law for
               withholding the record.

5.   (a)  (1)  A person acting pursuant to law or
               regulation who, subsequent to the effective date
               of this subdivision, submits any information to
               any state agency may, at the time of submission,
               request that the agency except such information
               from disclosure under paragraph (d) of subdivision
               two of section eighty-seven of this article. Where
               the request itself contains information which if
               disclosed would defeat the purpose for which the
               exception is sought, such information shall also
               be excepted from disclosure.

          (2)  The request for an exception shall be in writing
               and state the reasons why the information should
               be excepted from disclosure.

          (3)  Information submitted as provided in subparagraph
               one of this paragraph shall be excepted from
               disclosure and be maintained apart by the agency
               from all other records until fifteen days after
               the entitlement to such exception has been finally
               determined or such further time as ordered by a
               court of competent jurisdiction.

     (b)  On the initiative of the agency at any time, or upon
          the request of any person for a record excepted from
          disclosure pursuant to this subdivision, the agency
          shall:

          (1)  inform the person who requested the exception of
               the agency's intention to determine whether such
               exception should be granted or continued;

          (2)  permit the person who requested the exception,
               within ten business days of receipt of
               notification from the agency, to submit a written
               statement of the necessity for the granting or
               continuation of such exception;

          (3)  within seven business days of receipt of such
               written statement, or within seven business days
               of the expiration of the period prescribed for
               submission of such statement, issue a written
               determination granting, continuing or terminating
               such exception and stating the reasons therefor;
               copies of such determination shall be served upon
               the person, if any, requesting the record, the
               person who requested the exception, and the
               committee on public access to records.

     (c)  A denial of an exception from disclosure under
          paragraph (b) of this subdivision may be appealed by
          the person submitting the information and a denial of
          access to the record may be appealed by the person
          requesting the record in accordance with this
          subdivision:

          (1)  Within seven business days of receipt of written
               notice denying the request, the person may file a
               written appeal from the determination of the
               agency with the head of the agency, the chief
               executive officer or governing body or their
               designated representatives.

          (2)  The appeal shall be determined within ten business
               days of the receipt of the appeal. Written notice
               of the determination shall be served upon the
               person, if any, requesting the record, the person
               who requested the exception and the committee on
               public access to records. The notice shall contain
               a statement of the reasons for the determination.

     (d)  A proceeding to review an adverse determination
          pursuant to paragraph (c) of this subdivision may be
          commenced pursuant to article seventy-eight of the
          civil practice law and rules. Such proceeding must be
          commenced within fifteen days of the service of the
          written notice containing the adverse determination
          provided for in subparagraph two of paragraph (c) of
          this subdivision.

     (e)  The person requesting an exception from disclosure
          pursuant to this subdivision shall in all proceedings
          have the burden of proving entitlement to the
          exception.

     (f)  Where the agency denies access to a record pursuant to
          paragraph (d) of subdivision two of section eighty-
          seven of this article, the agency shall have the burden
          of proving that the record falls within the provisions
          of such exception.

     (g)  Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to deny
          any person access, pursuant to the remaining provisions
          of this article, to any record or part excepted from
          disclosure upon the express written consent of the
          person who had requested the exception.

     (h)  As used in this subdivision the term "agency" or "state
          agency" means only a state department, board, bureau,
          division, council or office and any public corporation
          the majority of whose members are appointed by the
          governor.

6.   Nothing in this article shall be construed to limit or
     abridge any otherwise available right of access at law or in
     equity of any party to records.

7.   Nothing in this article shall require the disclosure of the
     home address of an officer or employee, former officer or
     employee, or of a retiree of a public employees' retirement
     system; nor shall anything in this article require the
     disclosure of the name or home address of a beneficiary of a
     public employees' retirement system or of an applicant for
     appointment to public employment; provided however, that
     nothing in this subdivision shall limit or abridge the right
     of an employee organization, certified or recognized for any
     collective negotiating unit of an employer pursuant to
     article fourteen of the civil service law, to obtain the
     name or home address of any officer, employee or retiree of
     such employer, if such name or home address is otherwise
     available under this article.

8.   Any person who, with intent to prevent the public inspection
     of a record pursuant to this article, willfully conceals or
     destroys any such record shall be guilty of a violation.


Sec. 90.  Severability.

If any provision of this article or the application thereof to
any person or circumstances is adjudged invalid by a court of
competent jurisdiction, such judgment shall not affect or impair
the validity of the other provisions of the article or the
application thereof to other persons and circumstances.

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