Freedom of Information Act

Before submitting FOIA requests, individuals should ensure that the information they seek is not already in the public domain. Please contact individual participating agencies to submit your request.


The Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. 552, provides individuals with a right to access to records in the possession of the federal government. The government may withhold information pursuant to the nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the Act. The Electronic FOIA ("E-FOIA") Amendments which President Clinton signed into law in 1996, amended the law in several ways, including:

  • extend from 10 to 20 business days (excluding holidays) the time agencies must respond to requests for information;
  • require agencies to make reasonable efforts to make records available in formats desired by requesters;
  • require agencies to submit the FOIA Annual Report by fiscal year;
  • require agencies to make the reports available to the public by computer telecommunications or other electronic means;
  • require agencies to list their major information systems, record locator systems, and a reference guide or guide for obtaining information; and
  • require agencies to establish electronic reading rooms that include agency policies, staff manuals, opinions made in the adjudication of cases, and an index of records released by FOIA that are likely to become the subject of subsequent FOIA requests.

Public Information Servers