A coalition of New York good-government organizations and watchdog groups on Thursday called on top lawmakers in the legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to back a range of transparency measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The call for the measures comes amid concerns the state has not done enough to disclose COVID-related data, including where fatalities in nursing homes and long-term care facilities occurred.
The Cuomo administration has come under scrutiny for failing to initially release the data for months to state lawmakers and the public as requested and now is reportedly facing a second federal inquiry over the issue.
"We are fully aware that the state’s response to the COVID-19 emergency has become controversial, and we are not calling for recriminations and finger-pointing," a letter to the officials states. "We believe getting to the truth is more important to the public interest than chastising imperfect decision-making."
The nine groups, including Reinvent Albany, the Empire Center, Common Cause NY, and the New York Public Interest Research Group, called for open data on COVID-19, including for 121 high priority datasets by identified groups, oversight hearings for the pandemic and an independent safety board similar to the federal government's transportation regulatory agencies to assess state and local governance, as well as health, hospital, and social service systems.
"The people's right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society," the letter states. "Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality."