From Investigative Reporting Workshop: The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that government agency records are open to the public. Access can provide insight into such things as how taxpayer money is spent and what correspondence reveals about relationships between Congress and government agencies or between the agencies and private parties. However, this flow of information can be limited by nine exemptions, including those for national security, privacy and law enforcement reasons.
The data below show FOIA activity by year based on the reporting by 13 federal agencies, with the exception of requests to Veterans Affairs and the Health and Human Services departments, both of which tend to get more requests by individuals interested in their own records. Such requests are more likely to be granted than overall requests are. At the VA, for example, more than 70 percent of requests were granted last year, but overall, the government granted 63 percent of requests in full.