Freedom Of Information Code Frequently Asked Questions

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has a strong commitment to transparency and to providing access to records of the Port Authority to the greatest extent possible.  To that end, the Port Authority's Board of Commissioners adopted a Freedom of information Code.  Please read the Code before submitting a request for information as it contains procedures for submitting a request as well as other pertinent information. Listed below are some frequently asked questions as well as guidance on preparing your request for access to records.

  1. What is the definition of a record and what records are available under the Port Authority's Freedom of Information Code?
  2. What types of records are exempt from disclosure under the FOI Code?
  3. What is my recourse if I disagree with the decision of the FOI Administrator concerning the release of records, in whole or in part?
  4. What fees will I be charged for records under the FOI Code?
  5. How can I help to ensure that my request can be processed under the FOI Code and that I will receive the record I am looking for?
  6. How do I submit a Request for Records under the FOI Code?
  7. How long will it take for me to receive the requested records?
  8. Is the Port Authority subject to New York or New Jersey's Freedom of Information Laws?

Freedom Of Information Code

1. What is the definition of a record and what records are available under the Port Authority's Freedom of Information Code?

A record is any paper, written or printed book, document, drawing, map, plan, photograph, microfilm, data processed or imaged processed document, information stored or maintained electronically or by sound-recording or in a similar device, or any copy thereof, that has been made, generated, maintained, received in the course of transacting official business and kept on file of the Port Authority. 

All records of the Port Authority are available for public inspection and/or copying, except that such access or copying may be denied as to records or portions of records that are exempt from disclosure. 

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2. What types of records are exempt from disclosure under the FOI Code?

Examples of documents that may be exempt are included in the Code under each of the exemptions.  This includes, but is not limited to, contracts not yet awarded, unexecuted leases, maps of non-public areas, ongoing investigations, draft reports and security plans.  It is important to note that these are just examples of records that may be exempt.  A review of the requested record is conducted and a determination of availability is made on each request.

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3. What is my recourse if I disagree with the decision of the FOI Administrator concerning the release of records, in whole or in part?

Determinations made under the Code by the Secretary (or the Secretary's designee) are final.  Any person who is denied access to a record, in whole or in part, may seek judicial recourse as may be available in either the State of New York or New Jersey.

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4. What fees will I be charged for records under the FOI Code?

Under the Code, the Port Authority posts all fulfilled FOI requests on its website at http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/freedom-information-requests.html. Posting fulfilled requests provides immediate access to the available records and eliminates the need to print thousands of pages of documents.  All FOI fees are waived, on a one-year trial basis, to determine whether the posting of fulfilled requests on the Port Authority's website may preclude the necessity for imposing such fees.

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5. How can I help to ensure that my request can be processed under the FOI Code and that I will receive the record I am looking for?

In order to ensure that your request can be processed, we request that you be as specific as possible when describing the particular record(s) being sought.  Requests must not be overly broad, but should be as detailed as possible to clearly identify the specific record.  For example, if you are requesting a record relating to a facility of the Port Authority, include the facility name, relevant dates/times and accurately describe the specific record you are seeking.   The more precise the request, the greater the likelihood that your request can be processed.  For example, a request for "contract payments made to ABC Electrical Company for electrical work at the George Washington Bridge under Contract 123.456 between June 30, 2011 and July 15, 2011" can be processed as the specific documents are clearly identified rather than a vague request for "financial documents relating to ABC Electrical Company during the past year."  Also, it should be noted that requests for "any and all" records regarding a facility, project, contract or other activity are considered overly broad.

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6. How do I submit a Request for Records under the FOI Code?

Requests for inspection or copying of Port Authority records may be made to the Secretary of the Port Authority (or the Secretary's designee) in writing, and may be submitted in person during regular business hours at the Port Authority's main office; by postal or private delivery, addressed to the Secretary, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, at the Port Authority's main office, Attention: FOI Administrator; by facsimile, addressed to the Secretary, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, at the Port Authority's main office, Attention: FOI Administrator, at (212) 435-7555; or by electronic means, such as electronic mail addressed to the Secretary, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Attention: FOI Administrator, at the e-mail address designated for this purpose, or through the Port Authority's Web site at http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/freedom-of-information.cfm.

In addition, you may write to us directly by postal or private delivery, addressed to the Secretary, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 225 Park Avenue South, 17th Floor, New York, NY, Attention FOI Administrator.

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7. How long will it take for me to receive the requested records?

Within five business days following the receipt of your request, the Secretary of the Port Authority (or the Secretary's designee) will make the record available, in whole or in part; deny the request, or acknowledge receipt of the request and provide a written statement of the approximate date when the request will be granted in whole or in part or denied.

If circumstances prevent a determination of availability from being made within twenty business days from the date of the acknowledgement, you will be notified in writing of the reason for the delay and provided with a date certain within a reasonable period when the request will be granted in whole or in part.

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8. Is the Port Authority subject to New York or New Jersey's Freedom of Information Laws?

The Port Authority is not subject to the Freedom of Information Laws of New York or New Jersey.  The Port Authority first adopted a Freedom of Information Code in 1977, which has been revised over the years.  The Port Authority's Board of Commissioners adopted the current policy, the Freedom of Information Code, on March 29, 2012.

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In addition to adopting the Port Authority's Freedom of Information Code on March 29, 2012, the Board directed that, consistent with Port Authority polices and relevant provisions of law, information about the business of the Port Authority continue to be posted on the Port Authority's website, from time to time, irrespective of whether such information is requested under the Code.  Since that time, the Port Authority has posted approximately 230,000 pages of documents on its website, including all fulfilled FOI requests since January 1, 2011, all public Board and Committee meeting presentations since January 1, 2011, toll and fare hearing transcripts from 2011, and current terminal leases at our Port.  This information can be found at http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/transparency.html

In addition, Port Authority and PATH payroll information for the years 2008 to present as well as quarterly overtime reports are posted on the Port Authority's website at http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/employee-payroll-information.cfm.

Also available on the Port Authority's website is the agency's budget, Capital Plan (http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/current-budget-capital-plan.html), financial statements (http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/financial-statements.html), and annual reports (http://www.panynj.gov/corporate-information/annual-reports.html ).


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