Time is money. New York's change in its Freedom of Information Law will increase the bill of those requesting electronic public records by charging for an employee's time spent filling the requests.
New Yorkers might get an unpleasant surprise when they ask their government for databases and other types of electronic public records.
Last month, New York quietly changed its Freedom of Information Law to allow government agencies to charge for an employee's time when they fill citizens' requests for electronic records, provided they need to spend more than two hours filling the request.
The agency must supply an estimate of the cost beforehand in order to be able to collect, said Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the state's Committee on Open Government. The change, which Gov. David Paterson signed into law in August, benefits governments but could discourage citizens from asking for government records, Freeman said.