What is a FOIA?

FOIA Homepage

The FOIA, Title 5, United States Code, Section 552, was signed into law on July 4, 1966, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Since then, the FOIA has been amended in 1974, 1986, and most recently, with the enactment of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (E-FOIA). The E-FOIA and requires federal agencies to make records available both electronically and through public reading rooms. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) implements the FOIA regulation in 10 Code of Federal Regulations Part 1004 (10 CFR 1004).

The FOIA establishes the premise that any person has a right of access to federal agency records, and that federal agency records must be made available to the public unless they are specifically exempt from public release.

The FOIA applies to records created and maintained by agencies in the executive branch of the federal government, such as the DOE, and as part of the DOE, the Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO). The FOIA does not apply to Congress, the judicial branch of the federal government, or to state or local governments. Many state governments have enacted open records laws.

The FOIA and E-FOIA require that certain agency records, such as description of agency organization and office addresses, statements of agency operations, rules of procedures, general policy statements, final opinions made in the adjudication of cases, and administrative staff manuals that affect the public, be made available for inspection and copying regardless of the format. These records and many other agency records, in the spirit of openness, are also made available to the public in the public reading facilities, including at the DOE CBFO in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Although the FOIA is primarily a disclosure law, not all records requested under FOIA are automatically released. The FOIA has nine exemptions that allow certain information contained in records or the entire records to be withheld from public inspection. The exemptions apply to records that are: