Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests and Reports

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests and Reports

After the recent Supreme Court decision in MILNER v. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY I have been asked about the Freedom of Information Act: what it is, how it works, and what information is available.  This is a brief look at FOIA.  The Supreme Court in Milner used tools of statutory construction to resolve a circuit split about Exemption 2. In short, the court took a narrow view of what could be refused under the exemption.

FOIA took effect on July 5, 1967, and 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 are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.  Federal Court records are not within the jurisdiction of FOIA.

To get information under FOIA, you must make a “FOIA request.” This is a written request in which you describe the information you want, and the format you want it in, in as much detail as possible.  Looking at data available from reports at the FOIA website can help you in your request process and help you narrow what you are seeking. 

Here is where you can look at FOIA data. Select the type of report you are looking for, the department of interest, the fiscal year and a report is generated.  This is an example of a report that shows DOJ requests under FOIA for 2010

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