The basic function of the Freedom of Information Act is to ensure informed citizens, vital to the functioning of a democratic society.
Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.
Do research before you request
Before making a request, first see if the information is already publicly available. You can find a lot of useful information on individual agency websites and you can also search across the government for information.
If the information you want is not publicly available, you can submit a FOIA request.
What happens after you submit a request
The agency will typically first search for the records and then review them to determine what can be disclosed. While FOIA allows for many records to be released, there are also nine exemptions that protect certain types of information, such as personal privacy and law enforcement interests. The length of time to respond to your request will vary depending on its complexity and any backlogof requests.