NY State DOH: Anything but Open

If change under new Governor Andrew Cuomo includes a new spirit of ethics and openness, the message has yet to reach the state’s department of health.

As this blog noted in a January 11 post, the DOH’s response to a FOIL (freedom of information law) request for any and all DOH policies and procedures and emails regarding Medicaid Fair Hearings resulted in their sending only a slim training binder for fair hearing officers. If this is an honest and comprehensive response, it means the DOH has no fair hearing polices and procedures and no DOH employee has ever ever ever sent email discussing referencing fair hearings in any way. So, are we looking at incompetence, dishonesty, or a healthy dose of both?

Now, today, I received a letter from Robert “Jake” LoCicero, an attorney in the state’s Records Access Office. I’d sent in a FOIL request seeking the following linked to DOH officials Mary Ann Anglin and Maribeth Gnozzio.

– Any and all emails or other written forms of communication authored by Maribeth Gnozzio to any and all RRDCs in the state from January 2009 to the date of this request.
– Any and all emails or other written forms of communication authored by Mary Ann Anglin that were sent to or copied to Maribeth Gnozzio.

In today’s letter LoCicero let me know efforts are underway to gather the information but  they may want to charge me “an amount equal to the hourly salary attributed to the lowest paid agency employee who has the necessary skill required to prepare a copy of the requested record.” I already called the NY State Committee on Open Government. Over the years I’ve filed dozens of FOIL requests and the law says you can be charged no more than 25 cents a page.

Anyway, nice to know our department of health has thus far, despite our new governor, found a way to continue its secretive, insular, non-cooperative patterns of behavior.

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