May 15, 2000
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions.
The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your
I have received your correspondence of April 6. In brief, you have questioned
whether a private college is subject to the Freedom of Information Law due to its receipt of
In short, the receipt of funding from government is not the factor that determines
whether the Freedom of Information Law is applicable. That statute pertains to agencies,
and §86(3) defines the term "agency" to mean:
"any state or municipal department, board, bureau, division,
commission, committee, public authority, public corporation,
council, office or other governmental entity performing a
governmental or proprietary function for the state or any one or
more municipalities thereof, except the judiciary or the state
Based on the foregoing, the Freedom of Information Law applies to governmental
entities; it does not apply to private entities, such as private colleges, notwithstanding their
receipt of government funding.
I hope that the preceding serves to clarify your understanding of the Freedom of
Information Law and that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: William W. Wood