FOIL AO 18365



First, when a request involves photocopies, the maximum that can be charged is 25 cents per photocopy; no fee can be assessed for the time involved in making the copies.

Second, FOIL provides sufficient flexibility to enable a government agency to take a reasonable time to deal with a
request. When more than five business days will be needed to respond, the agency must acknowledge the receipt of the request within that time and offer an approximate date, generally not to exceed 20 additional business days, indicating when it is believed that the request will be granted in whole or in part. So long as the approximate date is reasonable in relation to the facts and circumstances, the agency would be complying with law. In the case of an unusually large or onerous request, if more than 20 additional business days would be necessary to respond, the agency must indicate the reason for the delay in writing and provide a "date certain", a self-imposed deadline, by which it will grant the request in whole or in part. Again, if that deadline date is reasonable, the agency is acting in compliance with law.

In short, there is no obligation to "drop everything" in order to respond quickly to a request; rather, the law provides the flexibility necessary to carry out duties in a reasonable manner.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY12231
Phone: (518)474-2518
Fax: (518)474-1927