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Tips for Searching the OTDA Website When You Do NOT Want To Find a Fair Hearing

August 18, 2011

(With a tip of the hat to Gene Doyle of POOR, and Adam Shoop of The CUNY Law School Economic Justice Project)

1.     Google is the search engine for the OTDA website, so Google search functions apply. 

        *****Using a minus sign (-) before “in the matter of” will eliminate fair hearing decisions.

                                      The search would look like this
                                      security deposit –“in the matter of”

2.     You can access the OTDA policy site directly by using a search function called an operand, which is a computer instruction which specifies the data to be searched or manipulated. Although advocates can not access this site directly, all of OTDA’s guidance documents are found at:

         But you can access this site on Google by using the operand “site:” [site:].  If you want to search OTDA’s policy site for a particular subject, such as eligibility for a security deposit, list the search words before the site operand.  For example: “security deposit” Site:

         If you are looking for other policy information, search OTDA’s “program” site by using site:

           Note that there is no space between the “site:” operand and the web address.

3.    Use an Advance Search Engine.  If the “site:” operand is too complicated for you, use the “advance search” version of Google [ search] or, if you prefer, Yahoo [].  Both of these advance search engines allow for searches within a site or domain like

4.    Search the Online Resource Center’s (ORC’s) “agency directives” site at:

       Joe Kelemen of Western New York Law Center posts all OTDA, DOH, and OCFS guidance documents (ADMs, INFs, LCMs and GIS Messages) there.

       The ORC site has some “old” guidance documents that are not found on the state agencies’ websites.

5.    Commercial Search Engines:  See the Benefits or Medicaid Decision List Archive and look for a June 30, 2011 e-mail from Gene Doyle with some recommendations for commercial search engines.


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