The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires agencies of the federal government to ensure certain information is available for public inspection and copying; and to establish and enable enforcement of the right of any person to obtain access to the records of such agencies (subject to statutory exemptions) for any public or private purpose. Since the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in 1966, and the amendments enacted in 1974 and 1986, the Freedom of Information Act has been a valuable means through which any person can learn how the federal government operates.
► Click here for a list of FOIA exemptions and their explanations.
The Electronic FOIA Improvement Act of 1996 (often referred to as e-FOIA) was signed into law in order to “bring the FOIA into the electronic age.” The legislation requires that agency records that have been released in response to the FOIA, or that may become the subject of subsequent FOIA requests in the future, be made publicly available. As a result, agencies created FOIA libraries to make documents more accessible to the public.
Federal agencies must make available for public inspection in an electronic format:
(A) Final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases.
(B) Those statements of policy and interpretations which have been adopted by the agency and are not published in the Federal Register.
(C) Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public.
(D) Copies of all records, regardless of form or format:
(1) That have been released to any person under paragraph 3 of ► Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §552.
(2) That because of the nature of their subject matter, the agency determines the records have become or are likely to become the subject of subsequent requests for substantially the same records.
(3) that have been requested 3 or more times.
► Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §552.
► Army CID FOIA Reading Room Memorandum.