06 July 2016

50th Anniversary of FOIA Recently Celebrated

50th Anniversary of FOIA Recently Celebrated

Hard to believe that we’ve been able to make Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for 50 years! 

Better yet, as we celebrated the anniversary of this bill on the 4th, President Obama Signs FOIA Reform Bill into Law on 50th Anniversary.

Some features of the reform, as reported above are:
·        the law's mandate for agencies to operate from a presumption of openness, ensuring that information is withheld only under one of FOIA's nine exemptions
·        paves the way for the creation of a single online portal to accept FOIA requests for any agency, similar to FOIAonline, already in use by 12 agencies and offices
·        FOIA exemption 5, which allowed agencies to withhold privileged information indefinitely, will limit the withholding of "deliberative process" documents — such as memoranda, letters and drafts — to 25 years

FOIA is a great resource for genealogists and family historians. It’s also NOT just about Federal records.  Open government initiatives exist in most states and may also be found in effect for local government also. The National Freedom of Information Coalition has information on State-level Freedom of Information (FOI) resources. You also might want to check out the Open Government Guide.

Here is a video about the 50th anniversary of the Federal Law.

In my experience, there are many genealogical queries that I made historically using FOIA that are now handled in a more streamlined fashion.  Have you found the same?

What FOIA requests have you made as part of your genealogical research? Were the records acquired through such an FOIA all that you hoped for?

Editor’s note: Related Upfront with NGS posts -- FOIA Mapper -- FREE tool to facilitate making FOIA requests (2016), FBI Records -- The Vault (FREE Access to select FOIA requested documents) (2015), New Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Portal! (FOIAonline, 2012), National Freedom of Information Coalition (2012)

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