During Sunshine Week, Oversight Democrats Release New Citizen’s Guide to FOIA
Washington, D.C. (March 16, 2023)—Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, released a step-by-step citizen’s guide to using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request government records and issued the following statement on the need for increased transparency in government:
“American democracy depends on openness for government accountability. Committee Democrats are empowering the public by making it easier to access government records with this citizen’s guide to FOIA. By boosting transparency, we offer all citizens the ability to serve as a fundamental check on government officials abusing our democratic institutions. With trust in government at an historic low, measures like this build on the actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to remove barriers, increase accountability, and restore widespread faith in the integrity of our federal government.”
The release of this citizen’s guide to FOIA comes as Oversight Democrats commemorate the 19th Annual Sunshine Week—a nationwide initiative meant to highlight the importance of government transparency. By promoting transparency, FOIA ensures a more effective and efficient government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
The Biden-Harris Administration has taken important steps to strengthen FOIA and make government more transparent. On March 15, 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued FOIA guidelines providing that “agencies are strongly encouraged to make discretionary disclosures of information where appropriate” and stating that the Department of Justice will not defend nondisclosure decisions that are inconsistent with FOIA or DOJ’s guidelines. On March 13, 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued new guidance that “advises agencies to review records with an eye toward disclosure and with transparency in mind.”
FOIA allows a person to file a request for information from the executive branch of the federal government. An agency is generally required to determine within 20 days after the receipt of a request whether it has located responsive records, and whether the requested records will be released. It is an essential tool for educational institutions, individuals, free markets, and the free press.
Click here to read the citizen’s guide to FOIA.