News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Archive for March 14th, 2016

Getting Federal Government Information and FOIA


To start with, a lot of government information is available in both print and electronic publicly available resources. The best place to start is with the part of the government (usually an agency) that you want to get information from. Most agencies and branches of government have lots of information available on their websites. Law libraries and other public libraries(hint, hint) are another great place and they have super helpful and friendly librarians to assist you.

What if I can’t find what I’m looking for? On the federal government level along with many states and smaller jurisdictions there are “Sunshine Laws” that allow citizens access to government information. On the federal level the law is called the Freedom of Information Act, aka FOIA. Since 1967, FOIA has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.

The US government even has a website dedicated to FOIA. Keep in mind though you should be also able to make these requests through individual agency websites as well. Finally, you may also want to check out a few short FOIA videos for further information.

Tomorrow, we will post about getting access to government information in Ohio.