Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Freedom of Information Website

On March 14, the Department of Justice Office of Information Policy (OIP) announced the launch of a new website:
As the flagship initiative of the Department’s Open Government Plan, OIP is proud to announce the launch of FOIA.Gov, a comprehensive public resource for government-wide FOIA information and data. FOIA.Gov displays graphically a wealth of data on agency FOIA compliance, contains educational material about how the FOIA works, and contact information for all government agencies.
FOIA, or the Freedom of Information Act, became effective in July, 1967. As explained at FOIA.GOV,
... the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. A FOIA request can be made for any agency record. ... The FOIA also requires that agencies automatically disclose certain information, including frequently requested records.
Federal departments and agencies submit to the Department of Justice annual reports about their compliance with FOIA. Those reports cover details such as the number of requests received, their dispositions, and the amount of time for processing them. A visitor to the website can request that a report be generated from the information collected by Justice. In addition, recent and "most popular" reports that have been generated for visitors are available by clicking their links.

For those interested in filing a FOIA request, the website includes a list of links for federal agencies and departments. After selecting an agency, the visitor selects a specific office, then is shown the name of the FOIA officer, the address for submitting the request, and the link for the agency's FOIA website. FAQs describe how to make a request and what the response process entails.

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