Today’s news:

Cuomo attempts to update state charities Web site

Unfortunately for New York residents, they have not been able to check for themselves if a nonprofit is in good standing with the state for the past several weeks because his successor as attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, is updating the Web site.On Dec. 27 Spitzer said in a report cautioning about donations to telemarketers for charities during the holiday season that New Yorkers needed to investigate whom they wanted to give money to."This annual report should serve as a reminder of the need to make informed decisions before contributing hard-earned dollars to charity," Spitzer said.One of the basic ways to investigate a charity is to check the attorney general's Charities Bureau, which reports on whether nonprofits are in good standing with the office. Matthew Glazer, a Cuomo spokesman, said the Web site had not worked for several weeks and was being upgraded to improve the functionality and documents available. The files were being converted from an Oracle database to a File Net system, and many additional files were being added.He said the site was taken off-line because there was a backlog in processing information."It is out of date and would provide inaccurate information," he said.He said once the system is back up it would provide far more documents than the previous system, although he would not predict when that would be.In the interim, he said, the Charities Bureau can take calls and look them up manually at 212-416-8060.Executive director Dick Dadey of Citizens Union, a government watchdog group, said although Cuomo's office is moving toward greater openness, he said he hoped the information would be available promptly."I don't ascribe any intent other than trying to improve transparency," he said of the down Web site, but "it is disappointing to know that public access is limited," he said.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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