Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) went into effect in 1967 and was one of the first such laws in the world. FOIA mandates that the public has the right to request information from the federal government. Agencies must disclose the requested records unless they fall under specific exemptions related to matters of national security or privileged information.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice launched as an online resource with general information about the FOIA request process as well as open data on agency FOIA requests.

The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 resulted in a series of amendments, including:

  • A requirement that federal agencies make requested records and documents available electronically

  • A requirement to post records and documents publicly once they had been requested three or more times

  • New authority for Chief FOIA Officers and creation of a Chief FOIA Officers Council to improve agencies’ response to FOIA requests

  • A requirement that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) oversee the creation and operation of a consolidated online FOIA request portal that will allow the public to submit requests to all federal agencies on a single website