From the introduction to Freedom of Information Act Fees for Government Information (IF11272, July 17, 2019):
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes a presumption that information in the possession of executive branch agencies and departments of the U.S. federal government is accessible to the public. Under FOIA, the burden of proof to access government information shifted from a requester’s “need to know” to a “right to know” doctrine, where the federal government has to show a need to keep the information secret (H.Rept. 109-226). However, federal agencies may recoup the costs of providing information to the public by assessing FOIA fees (hereinafter, fees). This piece discusses what fees are used for, how fees are assessed, fee waivers, and payment of fees.