Freedom of Information Act: Requirements and Implementation Continue to Evolve

GAO-10-537T Published: Mar 18, 2010. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 2010.
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The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes that federal agencies must provide the public with access to government information, enabling them to learn about government operations and decisions. To help ensure proper implementation, the act requires that agencies annually report specific information about their FOIA operations, such as numbers of requests received and processed and other statistics. In work reported from 2001 to 2008, GAO examined the annual reports for major agencies, describing the status of reported implementation and any observable trends. GAO also reported on agency improvement plans developed in response to a 2005 Executive Order aimed at improving FOIA implementation, including reducing backlogs of overdue requests. GAO was asked to testify on its previous work on FOIA implementation, as well as on selected changes in the FOIA landscape resulting from legislation, policy, and guidance. To develop this testimony, GAO drew on its previous work, as well as publicly available information.

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