Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Richard J. Peltz
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is an information disclosure statute that provides the principal means of access to records of the executive branch of the United States federal government. The FOIA, codified at 5 U.S.C. section 552, was enacted in 1966 and has been amended several times since, significantly by the Electronic FOIA Amendments of 1996. The FOIA was necessitated in large measure by the dramatic growth of the federal government in the mid-twentieth century, though a confluence of circumstances brought open-government legislative efforts to fruition in 1966. The U.S. Constitution does not provide a right of public access to inspect or copy government records. The first statute to provide a comprehensive right of access was the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 (APA), of which the FOIA today is a part. The APA was initially limited, vesting broad discretion in agencies and permitting access only to “persons properly and ...