Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act is a law that gives any citizen of the United States the authority to gain access to information that they may need from the federal government. To most people, it is described as the law that keeps people in the know about their government. Through the law, you are able to ask for certain information regarding government business or activities that you need and access it. The Freedom of Information Act has been viewed by many as one of the vital parts of American democracy.
The Freedom of Information Act was enacted and signed into law by President Lyndon B Johnson on July 4th 1966. However, it only took effect one year later. Despite the freedom that this law gives citizens to obtain federal records on request, there is an exemption that should be keenly noted. The freedom is restricted to certain information or records of the federal government that are protected from public disclosure. In case it is just part of the records that are protected, the particular agency that is issuing the records shall punch that section out and provide you with the rest. In fact, there are nine exemptions to this statute that one is required to know of.
Since there are various agencies that are charged with handling federal government records, it is always required that you know the particular one that can provide you with the information that you need. It is important to be sure of the agency that deals with the information that you need in order to make it much easier for you. According to the Freedom of Information Act, agencies have a mandate to disclose any information that is requested provided that it is not protected. Besides, the law also requires that agencies automatically conduct disclosure of certain information, including those that have frequently been requested.
The administration of the Freedom of Information Act is by the Executive Branch under the command of the President. However, the Information Policy office at the Department of Justice is charged with making sure that agencies are compliant with the directives set out in the act. Through the Executive and this office, various federal government agencies are encouraged to always be very transparent when it comes to responding to requests by citizens to access certain records.
Freedom of Information Act sets out the procedures for obtaining federal government records from the relevant agencies. It is also important that you get to know these procedures to avoid inconvenience and any problems that may arise in the course of making a request. The law also sets out penalties that can be awarded to any agency that acts in a manner that hinders the process of obtaining federal government information. For instance, if an employee or staff at an agency acts in arbitration with respect to withholding the information that you need, the mater can be taken to court and in case he or she is found guilty, disciplinary action can be awarded.
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