Re: April 10 editorial, “Add FOIL forms to websites,” The governor should boost transparency and citizen participation by signing legislation to strengthen the Freedom of Information Law, known as FOIL, by making it easier to get state government records.
FOIL empowers citizens by giving them a right to request and receive government records so they can understand how their tax dollars are spent and can hold government accountable.
Unfortunately, requesting information from state agencies can be difficult because not all take online requests and they each have their own procedures and requirements for requesting information.
The bill on the governor’s desk [S.7431(Murphy)/A.2131 (Peoples-Stokes)] would require state agencies to provide an online request form if the agency has a website. In an age when New Yorkers get their news, shop and pay their bills online, getting information from state government should be an easy online experience, too.
By signing this bill, the governor would help restore the public’s trust in government.
Creating an easy, standardized process for citizens to request and gather information from the multitude of government agencies should be a no-brainer. Why not make it easier for citizens to participate in a government?
The writer is policy associate for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).