FOIA Introduction

FOIA Basics

Making the FOIA Work for You
Follow a Request Through the FOIA Process (pdf)
Classification of Government Information
FOIA Audits
Noteworthy News Stories Made Possible by FOIA Documents
Government Guidance, Directives and Statistics on FOIA
Archive's Litigation (coming soon)
International FOIA
FOIA Links
Declassification, Reclassification, and Redeclassification (PowerPoint - 14 MB)

FOIA Legislative History

1966 Passage - The FOIA was enacted in 1966 despite the opposition of President Johnson to the legislation.  Prior to enactment, there were several years of congressional hearings about the need for a disclosure law.   The FOIA went into effect in 1967.  To learn more about the enactment of the FOIA, Click here.

1974 Amendment - In the wake of the Watergate scandal and several court decisions, Congress sought to amend the FOIA.  After negotiations between Congress and the Ford Administration broke down, Congress passed significant amendments to the FOIA.  President Ford vetoed the amendments and Congress swiftly voted to override the veto.  To learn more about the 1974 Amendments to the FOIA, click here.

1976 Amendment - In 1976, as part of the Government in Sunshine Act, Exemption 3 of the FOIA was amended. 

1986 Amendment - In 1986 Congress amended FOIA to address the fees charged by different categories of requesters and the scope of access to law enforcement and national security records.  The FOIA amendments were a small part of the bipartisan Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986.  The amendments are not referenced in the congressional reports on the Act, so the floor statements provide an indication of Congressional intent.

1996 Amendment - The FOIA was significantly amended in 1996 with the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996.  There were separate Senate and House bills that were reconciled by their sponsors.  The public law includes a "Findings and Purposes" section that was not codified into the FOIA's text.

2002 Amendment - In 2002, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the FOIA was amended to limit the ability of foreign agents to request records from U.S. intelligence agencies.

2007 Amendment - The FOIA was amended in 2007 with the OPEN Government Act of 2007, was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate in December. The new law aimed to fix some of the most persistent problems in the FOIA system, including excessive delay, lack of responsiveness, and litigation gamesmanship by federal agencies.

  • Floor Consideration.

    1. Introduced in house: January 17, introduced in House and referred to Oversight and Government Reform. H.R.541, 110 cong. (2007)

    2. Referred in Senate: March 15, Introduction and Referral Senate H.R. 1309. 110 Cong. (2007)

    3. Introduced in house: March 5, Introduced in House Referred to Subcommittee. H.R.1326. 110 Cong. (2007)

    4. Reported in Senate:August 3, considered and passed in Senate. Amend. (S11071-11073). S. Rept. 110-59. (2007)

    5. Introduced in Senate: December 6, Introduced to Senate, 110 Cong. Rec. S.2427 (2007)

    6. Enrolled Bill: Considered and passed Senate, December 13, 110 Cong. Public Law No: 110-175. (2007)

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