The strength of our nation’s democracy depends on the participation of informed residents in its governing processes —a collective of voices representing an array of interests and identities.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition is a resource. Our organization and members protect our right to open government by ensuring state and local governments and public institutions have laws, policies and procedures to facilitate press and public access to information and proceedings.
We are a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of state and regional affiliates representing 39 states, commonwealths, territories and districts including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. 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. We are proactively working to integrate new voices into the government transparency world, recognizing that information is critical to empowering marginalized groups, and that new perspectives are essential to healthy civic engagement and democracy.
Our members represent citizen-driven nonprofit FOI organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies, attorneys and civic organizations. NFOIC’s administrator is located in Williamsburg, Virginia.
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 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. And in 2022, the Virginia Coalition for Open Government took over administrative duties.
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
- Bloomberg LP
- Society of Professional Journalists Foundation
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.
We believe in transparency.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition is a 501(c)(3) organization located at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication. NFOIC is dedicated to helping establish, support and empower state coalitions to improve the laws, public policies, and practices of government information dissemination at the state and local levels.
NFOIC Strategic Plan (adopted 08/06/2019)
NFOIC Articles of Incorporation