Online FOIA Resources

Key Internet Resources for Using the Freedom of Information Act:

Government Agencies
Media
Private Organizations
Related SEJ.org Resources
Universities

Government Agencies

A Citizen's Guide on Using the FOIA

A comprehensive 1999 report by the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform.

U.S. Department of Justice FOIA Page

The lawyers who advise agencies on 5 U.S.C. § 552 ( Full text of the law) provide a list of FOIA Contacts at Federal Agencies and other advice you can use.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency FOIA Homepage

Reference materials include EPA's FOIA Manual and FOIA Task Force report, FOIA regulations (also in PDF), annual reports on the agency's FOIA actions, and an EPA phonebook.

Media

Washington Post editorial, "Security, Not Secrecy," July 17, 2002; Page A22 Section B; Word Count 448. Available in the Post's archives for a fee.

Private Organizations

ACLU guide to using the FOIA
A step-by-step guide including advice on exemptions and appeals.

The Federal Information Manual: How the Government Collects, Manages, and Discloses Information under FOIA and Other Statutes
The American Bar Association offers for sale P. Stephen Gidiere III's book of reference material, including glossaries of abbreviations and federal information statutes; a table of cases; appendices; checklists; a listing of useful public websites; and a comprehensive index. This may be a valuable resource for environmental researchers. The Environmental Protection Agency has many different statutory authorities to request information from outside parties, some that either complement or overlap each other. This book explains the details of the authority included in all major environmental statutes, including CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, TSCA, and FIFRA. Published January 2006.

Fill-in-the-Blanks State Open Records Law Letter Generator
From the Student Press Law Center.

Freedom Forum First Amendment Center
With authoritative articles from a March 15, 2002, National Freedom of Information Day conference on access at a time of crisis and FOI developments in the White House, Congress, courts, in U.S. government secrecy and international.

Freedom of Information Act (FOI-L) listserv and archive
State and local access issues.

Investigative Reporters and Editors
And the IRE FOIA Center homepage.

National Freedom of Information Coalition
Supports efforts of state-level First Amendment and open government groups.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
The RCFP keeps track of journalism access issues around the world, releasing major reports as well as daily news briefs. It offers a Fill-in-the-Blanks FOIA Letter Generator, free 24-hour hotline for journalists with legal questions on almost any subject (1-800-336-4243), helpful documents such as the Federal Open Government Guide and Access to Electronic Records, and biweekly updates by email on news media legal developments. See also RCFP's "Homefront Confidential: How the War on Terrorism Affects Access to Information and the Public's Right to Know" (third edition, March 2003.)

Right-to-Know Network
Searchable environmental databases including the Toxic Release Inventory, Biennial Reporting System, CERCLIS, and civil cases filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA.

SPJ/SDX FOIA resources
The Society of Professional Journalists offers "Project Sunshine" in every state; "Open Doors," a comprehensive report on accessing government records; and the latest news.

Related SEJ.org Resources

Industry groups have been lobbying for FOI exemptions long before the 9/11 attacks. You'll find background on their efforts, as well as US Chamber of Commerce contact info, in the July 24, 2002 TipSheet.

Universities

University of Missouri Freedom of Information Center

A service established in 1958 by FOIA pioneers at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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