Introducing FOIA.gov

Ed. Note: This post originally appeared on The Justice Blog.

FOIA.gov is a site dedicated to the Freedom of Information Act, a law at the very heart of open government. Congress passed the FOIA in 1966 and since then it has been known as the law that keeps citizens “in the know” about what their government is doing. Any citizen can make a FOIA request about any topic.

FOIA.gov makes it easier than ever to find information about the FOIA. With clear explanations and short videos, we’ve explored all the major aspects of the FOIA, including how you can make a request and what happens when you do.

We’ve also gathered information on where to send a FOIA request into one location. Just click on the name of a department and you’ll see where to send your request and the names of the officials responsible for making sure your request is completed.

If you want a quick glance at an agency’s data – we’ve got that too. Select any agency and you’ll see top-line data, like the number of requests for the most recent year and the number of total and partial grants made.

For more detailed information from an agency, you can generate your own report.

Each year, every federal agency is required to report to the Justice Department, which oversees FOIA compliance, basic information about how they complied with the law. This data is compiled into an annual report. This includes data like:

  • How many requests were received?
  • How many requests were processed?
  • How old is an agency’s oldest request?
  • How much did it cost to answer requests? 

FOIA.gov takes that data and lets you search, sort and compare the information. You can compare one agency to another. You can even compare the data from within the offices of a single agency.

Every year, we’ll add the numbers to the database, allowing users to see trends over time. Using the “FOIA Spotlight” we will spotlight some of the most interesting documents to be released under the law.  We’ve invited every agency to submit their suggestions for this section of the site.

The Freedom of Information Act is a key part of open government. FOIA.gov celebrates that, while providing a deeper look at how agencies are striving to improve their compliance with the law. We welcome your feedback on how we can improve the site in the future. If you have ideas, e-mail us at: feedback@foia.gov.

Melanie Ann Pustay is the Director of the Office of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice. OIP oversees agency compliance with FOIA directives and encourages all agencies to fully comply with both the letter and the spirit of the FOIA on behalf of the President and the Attorney General.

To learn more about the Obama Administration's commitment to good government, read about Sunshine Week 2011.

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