Accessing county records in Suffolk may soon get easier following the adoption of a bill requiring the development of an online freedom of information request system. Through the proposal sponsored by Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), the county’s Department of Information Technology will be given up to one year to implement an online application on which the public can make Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) related requests for documents.
Once launched, the application is intended to serve as a single point of contact for FOIL requests to all Suffolk County agencies. Currently, requests for documents are made individually to each specific department through each division’s respective FOIL officer.
“Central to democratic governance is transparency. It is a foundation on which public faith for its institutions is built and public confidence of its leaders is earned,” said Legislator Hahn. “However, Suffolk County’s existing FOIL procedure is convoluted and unnecessarily difficult for the public to navigate. Modernizing this process into a streamlined single point of contact for record requests will enhance residents’ access to their County government while strengthening the core of our democracy.”
“Suffolk County has been focused on government reform and creating efficiencies that allow us to better serve our residents,” said County Executive Bellone. “As we continue to modernize this government and implement the latest technology, a new online system will help streamline the process for our residents to access public records.”
Once signed, the online FOIL request system bill will become the second law sponsored by Legislator Hahn to be approved this year expanding governmental transparency. Last month, Hahn, who’s very first legislative victory was passage of a bill requiring recordings of legislative meetings be posted online within two hours of their completion, secured approval of a bill to increase intergovernmental and public transparency by requiring notification to the Legislature of certain public hearings held by the County Executive.
“As former Clerk of the legislature, I know firsthand the importance of government transparency and being able to promptly respond to requests for documents from the public,” said Suffolk County Legislature Minority Leader Jason Richberg. “I have no doubt that this new online portal will make FOIL requests an easier process all around- for both the public and for the county. Thank you to Legislator Hahn for all of her work on this important issue.”
Photo: "Foiled!" (https://flic.kr/p/aa7oQ) by Jeffery Bennett