The FOIA “Five” – After 50 Years, Changes in the Freedom of Information Act That (Might) Matter

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), passed by Congress and signed into law in 1966, “established a policy of openness toward information within the control of the Executive Branch, and a presumption that such records should be accessible to the American public.” Since its enactment, FOIA has been frequently utilized by journalists, historians, attorneys, and members of the American public to track the inner workings of the federal government, as well as to hold it accountable.

Although an excellent source of public agency information, its utility has been hampered by long delays (sometimes for years), overuse of exemptions resulting in nondisclosure, high fees, and a cumbersome pre-digital age process often resulting in the need for specialists to get access to government documents. Continue…