The Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") provides the public with the right to access certain government records. These requests are governed by New York State’s “Freedom of Information Law” (Sections 84-90 of the Public Officers Law).
The New York State Legislature clearly noted the purpose of FOIL as specified in the New York State Public Officer Law §84:
The legislature hereby finds that a free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public, and when the public is aware of governmental actions. The more open a government is with its citizenry, the greater the understanding and participation of the public in government.
Dutchess County has prepared an Access to Records Form (.pdf) for written requests. You do not need to use our form, but the form helps guide you through the questions you need to answer in order to have your written request processed. Every written request must be originally signed in ink and directed to the appropriate county department. To access records from the Department of Emergency Response please use their specific Application for Access to Records Form (.pdf); for access to the Department of Behavioral & Community Health (DBCH) records, please use their Application for Access to the Department of Health's Records Form (.pdf); to access records of the Water and Wastewater Authority, please send a letter in a format that resembles the following Sample Request (.pdf).
As an alternative to written requests, NY State law also requires that governments accept FOIL requests for records submitted in the form of electronic mail and to respond by electronic mail to the extent practicable.
If you wish to make a FOIL request for documents by e-mail, direct your FOIL request to the appropriate county department. Refer to the Department List for mailing address and other contact information.
Regarding FOIL requests: We will acknowledge a request within five business days of the receipt of a written request for a record reasonably described.
Record Access and Appeals Officers read and review the Freedom of Information Law annually
Where the records exist in electronic form, and no FOIL exemptions apply, these records will be emailed back to you along with our response. Please be aware that most County records do not exist in electronic form, and that you still may have to select whether to inspect the records in person at no charge or to have copies made for 25 cents per page.
Be sure to include the words "FOIL Request" in the message's subject line. Please include the following information:
In extraordinary circumstances, considerable time may be required to process your request. When more than two hours of an employee’s time is necessary to process your request, you may be charged the employee’s hourly rate in accordance with 21 NYCRR 1401.8(c)(i). In the event such hourly rate charges become necessary, we will consult with you beforehand.
When a request for access has been denied in writing in whole or in part by the Records Access Officer, the requesting party may appeal the decision to the appeal officer within 30 days of the denial.
An appeal shall be in writing, addressed to the appeal officer, and shall include the date of the request, the date of the denial, the records which were requested, and the name and address of the requesting party. A copy of the original FOIL request as well as the original response to such request should accompany the appeal.
The appeal officer for the County of Dutchess is the County Attorney, James M. Fedorchak, 22 Market Street, 5th floor, Poughkeepsie, New York, 12601. Call 845-486-2110 with any questions.