Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)


Text of FOIA

Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act (Section 552 of Title 5, Part I, Chapter 5, Subchapter II of the U.S. Code), which was enacted in 1966, provides the American people with the legal right to obtain access to federal agency records, except where such records are exempted or excluded from disclosure. Federal agencies are required to publish in the Federal Register the methods by which citizens may request agency information. (To search the Federal Register, go to the advanced search, move "Federal Register" into "Selected Collections," and type your search.) FOIA also requires that agencies will make available final opinions, orders, statements of policy, and administrative materials which have not been published in the Federal Register but which nonetheless affect the public. FOIA does not apply to Congress, the courts, the President's personal staff and office, and certain advisory offices of the White House. The full-text of FOIA, including amendments made to the statute by the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996, is available from the Department of Justice. All newly enacted provisions are in bold type.

Guides to FOIA

A Citizen's Guide On Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records (Congress, Committee on Government Reform, March 1999) [ TEXT ] [ PDF ]
Primarily intended to help the general public, this Guide is intended to serve as a general introduction to the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. The report explains how to use the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 and includes a complete explanation of the basics of the two laws. It offers neither a comprehensive explanation of the details of these acts nor an analysis of case law. Instead, the Guide enables those who are unfamiliar with the laws to understand the process and to make a request. In addition, the complete text of each law is included in an appendix.

Freedom of Information Act Guide, May 2004 (Justice Dept.)
The DoJ's FOIA Guide provides detailed and extensive coverage (with footnotes) of the FOIA, including reading room requirements, procedures, exemptions and exclusions, discretionary disclosures and waivers, fees and waivers, litigation considerations, "Reverse FOIA," and a lengthy bibliography.

Freedom of Information Act Reference Guide, Revised January 2010 (Justice Dept.)
This Reference Guide is designed to familiarize you with the specific procedures for making a FOIA request to the Department of Justice. This guide also includes descriptions of the types of records maintained by different parts of the Department, some of which are available through means other than the FOIA.

Your Right to Federal Records: Questions and Answers on the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act (General Services Administration and Justice Dept.) [ HTML ] [ PDF ]
Answers to frequently asked questions about FOIA and the Privacy Act. Includes which agencies are covered, what the exemptions and exclusions are, how to find records, who to contact, what a sample request looks like, what costs to expect, how long a request should take, how to appeal a denial, etc.

FOIA Update (Justice Dept., 1979-2000)
A quarterly newsletter designed to help agencies administer FOIA requests in efficient and satisfactory ways. Issues from vol. 1, no. 1 (Autumn, 1979) through vol. 20, no. 1 [2000] are available. Related information is continued by the online database FOIA Post.

Department FOIA Sites

Dept. FOIA Sites Selected Electronic Reading Rooms Contact Information
Agriculture Electronic Reading Room Agency Contacts
Commerce DoC FOIA Reading Room,
Census Bureau
Agency Contacts
Defense Office of the Secretary of Defense/Joint Staff Electronic Reading Room Electronic FOIA Requests
Air Force Key Contacts
Army
Defense Intelligence Agency
Marine Corps Points of Contact
National Security Agency To Submit an FOIA Request
Navy Electronic Reading Rooms Points of Contact
Education Electronic FOIA Reading Room FOIA Contacts
Energy Electronic Reading Room FOIA Request
Health and Human Services Electronic Reading Room,
Food and Drug Administration FOIA,
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Freedom of Information Officers
Homeland Security Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services,
Transportation Security Administration,
U.S. Customs Service
 
Housing and Urban Development FOIA Reading Room FOIA Requests
Interior Electronic Reading Room FOIA Contacts
Justice Reading Rooms,
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department Components
Labor Reading Room  
State Declassified/Released Document Collections Making a FOIA Request
Transportation Electronic Reading Rooms DOT Organizations and FOIA or Privacy Act Contacts
Treasury Electronic Reading Room,
Internal Revenue Service
Contacts
Veterans Affairs Electronic Reading Room FOIA Officers

Selected Agencies

Agency FOIA Sites Selected Electronic Reading Rooms Contact Information
Central Intelligence Agency Electronic Reading Room Contact (How to File)
Environmental Protection Agency Reading Room Contacts
National Aeronautics and
Space Administration
Electronic Reading Rooms Contacts
National Archives and
Records Administration
Electronic Reading Room NARA FOIA Liaisons
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Electronic Reading Room Contact Form
Securities and Exchange
Commission
Conventional and Electronic Reading Rooms Contact Address

Other Agency FOIA Sites

Principal FOIA Contacts at Federal Agencies (Justice Dept.)
A list of FOIA contacts in all federal agencies, organized by agency name. The DoJ also has a list of Other Federal Agencies' FOIA Web Sites.

Any questions? Ask a Librarian, or call us at 806/651-2205.