Electronic Reading Rooms and Web Sources for FOIA Responses

From Lisa DeLuca, Where Do FOIA Responses Live? Electronic Reading Rooms and Web Sources, C&RL News (2019; 80.1):

The “Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996” required that agencies needed to make eligible records available electronically. As a result, there are dozens of FOIA Libraries and Electronic Reading Rooms that are repositories for responses to agency FOIA requests. These documents are also known as responsive documents. Documents are often posted by agencies with redactions to protect personal privacy, national security, and other FOIA exemptions and exclusions. It is important for researchers, journalists, and citizens to use the terms “FOIA Libraries” and “Electronic Reading Rooms” as part of their search terminology. This will ensure they can find documents that might not be findable through a regular Google search.

There is no shortage of literature analyzing the challenges and administrative components of FOIA, including response wait times, complaints about excessive redactions, and lawsuits over access to government files. The purpose of this article is to describe where FOIA responses can be located. Searchable government FOIA information varies by agency. This column includes descriptions of several agency Electronic Reading Rooms, government sources (including Presidential Libraries), and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), as well as nongovernment sources, such as FOIA Mapper and MuckRock. The sources listed in this column are excellent starting points to locate current and historical FOIA content.

H/T Gary Price’s INFOdocket post.

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