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How is the theme chosen for each year's National FOI Day?
Does the First Amendment guarantee a general 'right of access' to government information?
Who can file a FOIA request?
How long does it take to get information under FOIA?

Once the right agency (or component of an agency) has received a complete and perfected request, it has 20 working days to respond with its determination of whether to grant the request.

If information is denied in full or in part, the agency must give the reasons by this deadline. If it grants a request, the agency does not have to deliver the applicable documents within the time frame, but must do so promptly thereafter.

FOIA allows agencies additional time to process requests in “unusual circumstances,” including 1) the need to search for and collect records from separate offices; 2) the need to examine a voluminous amount of records required by the request; and 3) the need to consult with another agency or agency component.

Many times agencies cannot meet the time limits, owing to the complexity of the request or to a backlog of prior FOIA requests. In that case, agencies typically process requests on a first-in, first-out basis. Some agencies multitrack requests, allowing simpler requests to move through the system more quickly. Agencies sometimes expedite urgent requests if a “compelling need” is shown.

To get an idea how quickly a particular agency generally responds to its requests, see that agency’s annual FOIA report, where it describes its compliance with the time limits and the median number of days it requires to process requests. (The DOJ keeps all departments’ and agencies’ annual reports on its Web site.)

Can I request information from my congressman through FOIA?
What information cannot be obtained through FOIA?
How do you appeal a denial of information under FOIA?
How can I find out more about the open-records act in my state, and file a state or local FOI request?
Must a federal agency produce records in an electronic format if asked to?
What are open-meetings laws?
Aren’t open-meetings laws unconstitutional? After all, don’t they infringe upon the speech of the members of governing bodies?
How do states deal with violations of open-meetings laws?
Many states and municipalities are now webcasting public meetings. Can they forbid reproduction of the meeting videos by members of the public?
Are city councils and similar public bodies required to have periods for public comment at meetings?
How can I find out more about the open-meetings act in my state?
Can public officials violate state open-meetings laws by sending e-mails?
Do state open-meeting laws specifically address e-mail communications?
Do court transcripts fall under FOI? Can they be withheld from litigants?
Are states making court records available electronically for the public?
Does the public have access to documents such as water-quality, toxic-waste and bridge-safety reports?
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Last system update: Saturday, April 24, 2010 | 15:08:34
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