Committee on Open Government

About Us

Oversees and advises with regard to the Freedom of Information Law, the Open Meetings Law and Personal Privacy Protection Law.
Our Core Services

The Committee is responsible for overseeing and advising with regard to the Freedom of Information Law, the Open Meetings Law and the Personal Privacy Protection Law (Public Officers Law, Articles 6, 7 and 6-A respectively). Staff of the Committee gives advice by telephone, email, written advisory opinions, and training classes conducted throughout the state. Advice is offered to the government, the public and the news media.

The Freedom of Law (FOIL) pertains to the public's right to gain access to government records. The Open Meetings Law (OML) concerns the public's right to attend meetings of public bodies. Both statutes are based upon a presumption of access and, since their initial enactment, have undergone significant changes based largely upon recommendations made by the Committee.

A basic guide to the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Laws, Your Right to Know, includes sample letters of request and appeal and is available on our Publications page.

The Personal Privacy Protection Law (PPPL), pertains to personal information collected and maintained by state agencies. State agencies are required to meet standards of fair information practices regarding the collection, maintenance, use and disclosure of personal information.

The Committee is required to submit a comprehensive annual report to the Governor and the Legislature describing the Committee's experience under each of the statutes and recommendations for improving them.

The Committee and the laws it oversees have gained national and international recognition as models for other jurisdictions. Its work and experience have been shared with access professionals at international conferences, and it is represented through membership in the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws and participation on the Media Law Committee of the New York State Bar Association.

Public Officers Law Article 6 (the Freedom of Information Law) establishes the statutory authority for the Committee on Open Government.  Public Officers Law § 89(1)(a) states:

  • The committee on open government is continued and shall consist of the lieutenant governor or the delegate of such officer, the secretary of state or the delegate of such officer, whose office shall act as secretariat for the committee, the commissioner of the office of general services or the delegate of such officer, the director of the budget or the delegate of such officer, and seven other persons, none of whom shall hold any other state or local public office except the representative of local governments as set forth herein, to be appointed as follows: five by the governor, at least two of whom are or have been representatives of the news media, one of whom shall be a representative of local government who, at the time of appointment, is serving as a duly elected officer of a local government, one by the temporary president of the senate, and one by the speaker of the assembly. The persons appointed by the temporary president of the senate and the speaker of the assembly shall be appointed to serve, respectively, until the expiration of the terms of office of the temporary president and the speaker to which the temporary president and speaker were elected. The four persons presently serving by appointment of the governor for fixed terms shall continue to serve until the expiration of their respective terms. Thereafter, their respective successors shall be appointed for terms of four years. The member representing local government shall be appointed for a term of four years, so long as such member shall remain a duly elected officer of a local government.

Committee Members

Ruth N. Colon, Appointed by the Governor
Antonio Delgado, Lieutenant Governor
Peter D. Grimm, Appointed by Governor, Rensselaer County Legislator
Hadley Horrigan, Appointed by Governor
Jeanette M. Moy, Commissioner, Office of General Services
Chris Policano, Appointed by the Governor
Blake G. Washington, Ex-Officio, Director, Division of Budget
Robert J. Rodriguez, Secretary of State
Franklin H. Stone, Appointed by Speaker of the Assembly
Stephen B. Waters, Appointed by Temporary President of the Senate

The members of the committee shall be entitled to reimbursement for actual expenses incurred in the discharge of their duties but are not otherwise eligible for compensation.  

Executive Director
Shoshanah Bewlay


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Executive Director
Shoshanah Bewlay

Shoshanah Bewlay was appointed the Executive Director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, a statutorily independent governmental program housed within the New York State Department of State (“DOS”), in January 2020.

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