Freedom of Information Act

Meaningful citizen participation depends on the public’s ability to access information. Throughout our 40 years, Public Citizen Litigation Group has worked to increase government transparency, litigating more significant open government cases than any firm or organization in the country. Today, we continue to assist a wide variety of organizations, community groups, journalists, academics, and other individuals seeking to obtain information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other open government laws.

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Learn How to File a FOIA Request

Congress enacted FOIA in 1966 to give the public access to information held by the federal government. The Act gives any person the right to request and receive access to any document, file, or other record in the possession of any federal government agency, subject to exemptions. FOIA was designed to be relatively simple to use. As a result, you can file a request and can appeal request denials within the agency without legal representation.

The federal FOIA does not apply to records held by state and local government officials, but many states have laws that provide public access to records of state and local government bodies upon request.

 

Request Legal Assistance in Pursuing Your FOIA Request

Individuals, community groups, and organizations everywhere rely on information – data, reports, policy statements, or other records – held by the government. If you would like to request assistance on a FOIA-related matter, contact us at foiaclinic@citizen.org. Please include in your e-mail:

  • Your name and contact information;
  • A short description of the documents you seek;
  • The name of the agency that you believe has the documents;
  • What steps, if any, you have taken to gain access to the documents; and
  • If you have already filed a FOIA request, a description of the agency's response. 

Information and resources on FOIA are provided by the Freedom of Information Clearinghouse, a project of Public Citizen Litigation Group and funded in part by a grant from the Center for the Study of Responsive Law.