Freedom of Information Act (Federal) Research Guide

This guide discusses how to use the federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, to obtain records from federal government agencies when those records are not published in the Federal Register or distributed by the Government Publishing Office.


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Administrative Materials & Regulations

In drafting FOIA requests, it is advisable to consider the regulations of the specific agency from which you are requesting information. Agency-specific regulations typically include a list of the fees an agency charges to process FOIA requests and a description of the required request format. In addition to reviewing the specific agency's regulations, you may want to consult guidance materials issued by the Department of Justice's Office of Information and Privacy, which advises other agencies on FOIA issues.

1. Department of Justice

According to the Department of Justice's (DOJ) website, the mission of the Office of Information and Privacy (OIP) "is to encourage and oversee agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). OIP is responsible for developing government-wide policy guidance on all aspects of FOIA administration. OIP also provides legal counsel and training to agency personnel." The OIP publishes extensive FOIA guidance materials on its web site that are applicable to all federal agencies.

Procedures for obtaining records from the Department of Justice itself can be found in 28 C.F.R. Part 16.

2. Other Agencies

Each federal agency makes its own procedural regulations for handling FOIA requests and FOIA reading room documents. These regulations can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations. Links to FOIA regulations from selected agencies are provided below.



Other agencies' FOIA regulations can also be found in the Code of Federal Regulations; for information on searching the Code of Federal Regulations, see the Library's Administrative Law Research Guide.