Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 8:39 AM
Subject: RE: FOIL Advisory Opinion Request


Although an agency may require that a request be made in writing, the regulations promulgated by
the Committee on Open Government, which have the force and effect of law, have long stated that
"An agency may require that a request be made in writing or may make records available upon oral
request" [21 NYCRR ยง1401.5(a)]. Records are routinely made available without submission of written
requests in numerous circumstances. For example, when a person enters a town clerk's office and
asks to inspect minutes of meetings, he/she might be directed to a minute book in which those
records are kept chronologically, and there may be no need to submit a written request. In short,
when records are clearly public and readily retrievable, it is neither uncommon nor inconsistent with
law to respond to a request made verbally and to forego the submission of a written request.

I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding and 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, NY 12231
Phone: (518)474-2518
Fax: (518)474-1927