Do I have to file a Freedom of Information Request (FOIL) for Property Records?
Our town puts out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for bids to buy a parcel of property.
Bids arrive to the town.
Does we have to FOIL for the records? Or are they available to us as part of the routine course of business?
If we must FOIL, how do we describe the contents we are seeking? That is, what portions of the bid response for each bidder must be released under the Open Public Meetings Law?
A FOIL request is only required if the town requires it. There is nothing that prevents anyone walking into town hall verbally requesting a document and the town clerk providing it. In some places that is how it is done and should be done. There is nothing in the law that requires utilizing the FOIL process to provide information to the public.
Terms are important. There is a difference between an “RFP” process and a “bidding” process. With bids, typically they are opened in public and the town goes with the low bidder when seeking work and the high bidder when selling something. If the bids have been opened, all information is accessible to the public.
RFP’s are a different process, typically used to hire professional firms and with an RFP the winner is made not just on price alone but other factors as well, such as experience, etc. RFP info can be released after the process of selecting someone has been completed.
As far as the wording of your request, I assume in the case of bids you are looking for the names of who bid and the amount of the bid. For an RFP you probably want to see what grading criteria was established, the evaluation results and the proposals submitted.