The Freedom of Information Act and Its Benefits


According to common belief, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) represents the public’s right to be informed about the different actions of the government. After nearly 11 years of studies and legislation, the Act was finally approved in 1966. Individuals are allowed to use and access records following the Act without being interrogated. So no one is required to justify their need for information access. In general, FOIA mandates that all federal agencies make any material in their possession available to the public so that citizens can comprehend the choices and actions of the government. Additionally, it opens a conduit for the swift resolution of disagreements about access to records of information.

Exemptions that protect records from FOIA disclosure and the exemptions

The exemptions shield against the publication of information that might endanger vital acknowledged interests such as national security, individual privacy, company property interests, government operation, and other essential interests. According to USA Government (2011), the exemptions include National Defense and Foreign Policy, Internal Personnel Rules and Practices, Information Exempt Under Other Laws, Trade Secrets and Confidential Commercial or Financial Information, Inter-Agency or Intra-Agency Memoranda or Letters, Personal Privacy, Law Enforcement, Financial Institutions, and Geological Information. The exclusions include; the subject of a criminal investigation or proceeding being unaware that records about the investigation or proceeding are even kept, and disclosure of such records would interfere with the investigation or proceeding, a criminal law enforcement agency keeps informant records, and the person’s status as an informant is unknown, and the existence of FBI foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, or international terrorism records is a fact that is classified.

Does the FOIA apply to Congress or the White House?

The FOIA does not apply to records held by state or local governments, the central offices of the White House, Congress, or the courts. All state governments do, however, have laws similar to the FOIA (Pozen, 2016). Contacting the Office of the Attorney General of that State can inquire about the specifics of that state’s records access statute.

How to request records under the FOIA

One should check to find out whether the information they are interested in is available to the public before making a request. The websites of each organization include a lot of insightful data on various subjects (Pozen, 2016). They can make a FOIA request to the agency’s FOIA Office if the information they are looking for is not readily available to the public. The request should entail the specific request, contact information, description of the records requested, and any additional information. Once the information is compiled, the FOIA request is sent through email, postal mail, or fax.

How long does it usually take to answer a FOIA request?

Agencies usually handle requests in the order they are received. Depending on the intricacy of the request and any backlog of current requests at the agency, it may take longer or shorter to answer a request. According to USA Government (2011), the agency can process a straightforward request more quickly than a complicated one. Simple queries frequently ask for fewer pages of records and are more focused. Complex requests generally demand a large amount of information or more steps to complete, such as the requirement to search for documents across several different locations. A denial or partial denial of a FOIA request may be appealed. The Assistant General Counsel must receive an appeal for Administration within 30 days of the date of the answer letter. One can request to have the material declassified if the agency withheld it due to classification and the appeal was rejected.

How will having studied the FOIA be beneficial in your profession?

FOIA has provided a platform for media and communication by making every piece of information accessible to all citizens. In the profession, it allows me to perform my research as a journalist on various agencies with less information on their websites since it has created the freedom of speech and accessibility to a lot of information regarding different offices.


In conclusion, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a bold idea. It was intended to make the government more transparent by allowing anybody to seek any documents for any purpose. Investigative media, watchdog organizations, and concerned people would seize the opportunity to expose dishonest government practices and hold leaders responsible.


Pozen, D. E. (2016). Freedom of information beyond the freedom of information act. U. Pa. L. Rev., 165, 1097.

USA Government. (2011). Your Right To Federal Records. Questions and Answers on the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. Web.

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DemoEssays. "The Freedom of Information Act and Its Benefits." July 28, 2023.