National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Data diplomacy: Speak softly and carry a big FOIA

Despite the push for government dashboards and open data portals, much of the data we use at Reveal still must be obtained through public records requests.

Summary data on government websites often comes from more granular and detailed databases.

But asking for that data can be a challenge because of the technical issues you might face. The first time I requested data from a government agency, I had no idea where to begin. How would I get the appropriate dataset for my story? How could I avoid getting summary or aggregate data or data in PDFs?

Here are some things I learned along the way. Continue…