Good-government organizations are pushing state officials to improve the response times to requests for public records from New York's state government amid delays they argue are frustrating and undermine transparency laws. 

The groups, led by Reinvent Albany, released a letter on Tuesday sent last week to the Committee on Open Government, a panel that acts as an ombudsman for government transparency in New York. 

The letter blasted "massive delays" in responses to Freedom of Information Law requests, commonly known as FOIL. 

"The ugly reality is that information requested via FOIL frequently takes six months to a year to be provided, and delays of 18 months to two years are common. Worse, the information that is provided is often incomplete and not what was requested," the groups wrote in the letter. "We note that these massive delays and endless wrangling with agencies far precede the COVID-19 epidemic."

Records requests are used by members of the public to obtain government documents and information, sometimes for a nominal copying charge. 

Journalists, in particular, have complained of long delays in receiving the actual records requested. Transparency advocates are concerned the long delays could undermine the intent of the transparency laws put in place. 

"It is important to turn the overwhelming and widespread anecdotal reports of FOIL delays and denials that lack a basis in law into an accurate and detailed trove of research which can be used to identify areas where performance can be improved," the letter states.