From:   Freeman, Robert (DOS)
Sent:    Friday, March 21, 2008 8:41 AM

I have received your inquiry concerning the time for responding to a request that is made via email.  There is no judicial decision on the matter, and it is suggested that reasonableness should provide proper guidance.   If a request is received, for example, at 4 p.m., in my view, the next business day should be considered the first business day of receipt.  On the other hand, if a request is received at 10 a.m., that day should be considered the first business day.  If five business days have passed and an agency has failed to respond to a request in any way, the request may be deemed denied, and the applicant has the right to  appeal the denial in accordance with §89(4)(a) of the Freedom of Information Law.

There is no particular way of making a request.  The law merely states that an agency may require that a request be made in writing and that the request must “reasonably describe” the records sought.  “Your Right to Know”, a general guide to the Freedom of Information Law that is available on our website, includes a sample letter of request.  There are also several chapters on our educational video available on our website that may be useful to you.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
NYS Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Ave., Suite 650
Albany, NY 12231
(518) 474-2518
(518) 474-1927 - fax