Freedom of Information – Obtaining Federal and State Government Records

The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) makes almost every record possessed by a federal agency disclosable to the public unless it is specifically exempted from disclosure or excluded from the Act’s coverage. Detailed information is available at and at All 50 states also have public records laws which allow members of the public (including non-residents) to obtain documents and other public records from state and local government bodies. State public records laws are not identical to federal FOIA. This website has state-by-state links to each state’s public records law, and includes detailed descriptions for making federal and state requests.

Many states’ laws are similar to FOIA, but the similarities notwithstanding, you must be alert to recognize where there are important differences. These distinctions may arise in regard to the breadth of coverage of a disclosure exemption or in the implementation of response deadlines. ALWAYS review the specific law and regulation you are working with before you proceed.

FOIA.GOV – the federal government website for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) information, questions, and actions.

FOIAdvocates – this website is a project of FOIA attorneys David Bahr & Daniel Stotter designed to assist the public in gaining access to records from federal, state and local governments using the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as well as state and local public records laws.

Info Page from FOIAdvocates – State-by-State Links to Public Records Laws – This website provides information for completing FOIA requests, and includes a state-by-state list of links to the State Public Records legislation in each state.