The National Freedom of Information Coalition protects our right to open government by ensuring state and local governments and public institutions have laws, policies and procedures to facilitate the public’s access to their records and proceedings.
We are a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of state and regional affiliates representing 35 states and the District of Columbia. Through our programs and services and national member network, NFOIC promotes press freedom, legislative and administrative reforms, dispute resolutions and litigation (when needed) to ensure open, transparent and accessible state and local governments and public institutions.
Our members include citizen-driven nonprofit FOI organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys. NFOIC is located at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and works closely with its neighbor, the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information.
Simply put: We protect your right to open government.
Mission: To help establish, support and empower state coalitions in order to improve the laws, judicial remedies, and practice of government information dissemination at the state and local levels.
The vision for NFOIC is to foster transparent state and local government, which in turn leads to increased civic engagement, self-governance, public-affairs journalism and civic information, and ultimately a better-informed and more trustful society and democracy.
NFOIC provides transparency education and guidance, offers financial support for FOI litigation, a state-by-state resource guide to state FOI organizations and information, and undertakes evidence-based research projects.
Each year, NFOIC and its members convene the National FOI Summit. This two-day event features ideas, experiences and discussions about the latest issues and trends around freedom of information laws, policies and practices at the state and local levels across the U.S.
The NFOIC also administers the Knight FOI Litigation Fund, which offers financial support to defray costs and expenses in open government court cases.
NFOIC and its coalition members advocate to remove obstacles at public institutions that block or hinder people from obtaining information that is rightfully theirs. Our goal is nothing short of ensuring everyone’s right to information, and advising public institutions about meeting their legal obligations in the most cost-efficient manner in accordance to their state open government laws. To do this, we:
- Work to start up new, and support existing, citizen-driven Freedom of Information and First Amendment organizations.
- Foster the open exchange of information through networking at the annual National FOI Summit.
- Counsel and educate appointed and elected public officials on their legal responsibilities around open government and transparency.
- Offer a national, collective voice on freedom of Information issues.
- Support state member fundraising.
- Explore critical issues, making recommendations for either state or national action.
- Prepare educational reports and research on FOI issues for a national audience.
- Administer the Knight FOI Litigation Fund, which offers financial support to defray costs and expenses in open government court cases throughout the year.
The NFOIC first met in 1989 in Dallas, Texas. It was called the National Freedom of Information Assembly. The meeting arose out of a need to support specialized First Amendment organizations with the expressed goal to protect the public's right to know. Known as "free standing,'' these organizations began around the country in response to a recognition that government entities and officials were not always willing to recognize the public's right to access public records and meetings, a necessity in a democracy.
The Assembly met again in Dallas in 1991, the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, and planned to meet in January of the next year to formulate a plan for mutual support. At that meeting, the National FOI Assembly was formally renamed the National Freedom of Information Coalition. In 2018, NFOIC moved its offices from the University of Missouri-Columbia to the University of Florida in Gainesville.
The NFOIC is supported by members, sponsors, donors and grantors. We appreciate the generous support we have received from the following organizations:
- John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
- Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation
- Ford Foundation
- Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida
- Charles Koch Institute
- Bloomberg LP
NFOIC maintains strategic alliances with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Investigative Reporters and Editors, MuckRock, the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Media Law Resource Center.