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FOIL-AO-16572

To:
Sent: May 16, 2007
Subject: RE: Requesting paper records in electronic format

It is our view that if an agency has the ability to scan records in order to
transmit them via email and doing so will not involve any effort additional to
an alternative method of responding, it is required to do so. For example,
when copy machines are equipped with scanning technology that can create
electronic copies of records as easily as paper copies, and the agency would
not be required to perform any additional task in order to create an
electronic record as opposed to a paper copy, we believe that the agency is
required to do so. In that instance, transferring a paper record into
electronic format would eliminate any need to collect and account for money
owed or paid for preparing paper copies, as well as tasks that would otherwise
be carried out. In addition, when a paper record is converted into a digital
image, it remains available in electronic format for future use.

In sum, when an agency has the technology to scan a record without an effort
additional to responding to a request in a different manner, and a request is
made to supply the record via email, in our opinion, the agency must do so to
comply with the Freedom of Information Law.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Janet M. Mercer
NYS Committee on Open Government
41 State Street
Albany, NY 12231
(518) 474-2518
(518) 474-1927 - Fax
http://www.dos.ny.gov/coog/coogwww.html