Tag Archives: FOIA

Millions of New Records Added to New York State Transparency Website

In a press release issued on May 1, 2013, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the addition of millions of government records to the state’s new data transparency website, which launched during Sunshine Week in March of this year. The website was created in an effort to provide citizens with user-friendly, one-stop access to government data from New York State agencies, localities, and the federal government. Information on a variety of subjects such as food safety inspections, state jobs data, daycare facilities, economic development, crime data, and medical conduct discipline records were included in the initial launch of … Read More

Controversy over Published Gun Permit Records Continues

A newspaper in suburban New York has received nationwide attention and criticism after publishing an interactive map that lists the names and addresses of gun permit holders in Rockland and Westchester counties. The Journal News sought this information following the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and was obtained legally under New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

The release of these records has ignited heated debates all across the country. While some readers appreciated the information, others believe that it was an invasion of privacy and fear it could also endanger gun permit holders. In an article titled “The Journal … Read More

Freedom of Information Act Requests Gets Easier

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Obtaining public information from the federal government just got a lot easier thanks to a new federal website launched on October 1, 2012.

The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides the public a way to request information from federal agencies. However, each agency has its own independent records system and its own procedures for handling requests for information. Therefore, each agency must be contacted separately, and when necessary, records are transferred manually between agencies causing lengthy delays for the requestor and additional work for the agencies. For someone requesting information, it is hard to know the proper procedure for … Read More

New Presidency Could Mean More Transparency for Public Records

Now that all the glitter and excitement from the inauguration ceremony and balls has passed, it is time for our new President to get to work. In our trying times of war, global warming, and a bad economy, there is a lot of work to be done. Thus, it is interesting to watch what actions the new President will make first. President Obama has made it clear during his campaign that a transparency in government is an important issue to him. Well, in a move that made many public records advocates excited, one of President Obama’s first signings this week … Read More

Two Big FOIA Rulings Made By The Michigan Supreme Court

This month the Michigan Supreme Court ruled on two issues that could have a serious influence on the rights provided through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As with most FOIA cases, the issues of privacy vs. access to information engaged in battle. In this round, it appears the privacy won. Many have called these decisions a “blow to the FOIA.

Both decisions involved public universities. The first decision involved state employee contact information. A case brought against the University of Michigan by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Michigan for being refused access to certain employee information. In that … Read More

Online Help for FOIA and Government Records

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In a March 13, 2007 article entitled “Getting Your Government Files,” US News and World Report describes several resources for access to government records via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):

For general requests:

“an easy-to-use FOI letter generator.”

For an individual’s files:

“relevant forms from the Freedom of Information Center.”

For open meetings and other open records:

“The Reporters Committee has a handy guide.”

Another resource related to FOIA is Governmentdocs.org, an online service that offers “an unprecedented level of access to government documents by allowing users to browse, search, … Read More