December 8, 2008
FROM: Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director
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 correspondence.
I have received your letter in which you asked that I “confirm...when the clock starts on an email request.” You wrote that a resident of the Village of Walton “states that the clock starts when he sends his email to [your] computer”, but that I indicated, in your words, that “it would be on the next business day after the email is received.
In my view, neither of those statements is fully accurate.
From my perspective, a proper response must be based on reasonableness and reality. If a request is emailed and reaches your computer on a Friday night at 10 p.m., I do not believe that the “clock starts” at that time. Rather, assuming that the Village office remains closed from Friday evening until Monday morning, I believe that the clock would start, for purposes of responding to a request made under the Freedom of Information Law, when regular business hours commence on Monday morning.
If email is sent on Monday morning at 9 a.m., and business hours begin on or about that time, I believe that the clock starts on that day, not the next. On the other hand, if a request made by email is received at 4:25 p.m., and business hours end at 4:30 p.m., it is my view that the time for response would begin on the next day when regular business hours begin.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
cc: Greg Waldron