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FOIL-AO-16973

From: Tefft, Teshanna (DOS)
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2008 12:34 PM
To:
Subject: Scanning of Records

Dear

In regard to your inquiry concerning the fee that may be charged for the scanning of records and
what the obligations of an agency are, I have put the language from our website and a copy of an
advisory opinion that has been issued on this subject in the body of this email. I hope this helps.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.

• Scanning Records in Response to a Request
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.

FOIL-AO-16279

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The
ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.

Dear Mr.:

With respect to scanning records in order to transmit them via email, it is our view that if
the agency has the ability to do so and when doing so will not involve any effort additional to an
alternative method of responding, it would be required to scan the records. 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. Further, it appears in that instance that transferring a paper record into electronic format would diminish the amount of work imposed upon the agency in consideration of the absence of any need to collect and account for money owed or paid for preparing paper copies, and the availability of the record in electronic format for future use.

In sum, it is our opinion that if the 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, the agency must do so to comply with the Freedom of Information Law.

RJF:tt

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
NYS Committee on Open Government
Once Commerce Plaza
Albany, NY 12231
(518) 474-2518
(518) 474-1927 - fax
www.dos.ny.gov/coog/coogwww.html