The state Committee on Open Government is urging “proactive disclosure” of public information because “those who want to know what government is doing or has done should not be required to submit a FOIL [Freedom of Information Law] request in writing to an agency of state or local government each time government information is sought.”

In its 2012 annual report, the committee urges government to “fully embrace” proactive disclosure and make information of general interest readily available to the public, whether someone has asked for it or not. It endorses a bill introduced last year that would require every agency to publish on its website records of general interest (A. 5867-B/S.393.-B by Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan, and Senator Elizabeth Krueger, D-Manhattan).

The committee also calls for legislation that would require an award of attorney fees when an agency cannot justify a refusal to reveal public information; confirm that a judge has discretion to award attorney fees for a violation of the Open Meetings Act; and open courtrooms to the reasonable use of cameras. “Although New York is often considered to be the media capital of the world, cameras are permitted…in courts of 45 states. Few states, one of which is New York, expressly prohibit the use of cameras in the trial courts,” the committee says.