The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed in 1967 and gives the public the right to request access to records from federal agencies that are not publicly available. Agencies are required to disclose the information unless it falls under an exemption such as personal privacy, national security, or law enforcement. Each agency has a different process for FOIA requests. FOIA does not require agencies to create new records or to conduct research, analyze data, or answer questions when responding to requests.
When might you want to make a FOIA request? You can put in a request any time you think that a federal agency has information that you might need for your business operations or for possible litigation.
There is no fee to submit a request, but the agency may charge for search time or copies. According to the FOIA.gov site, there is usually no charge for the first two hours of search time or for the first 100 pages of duplication.
Similar procedures exist at the state level. Colorado passed the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) in 1969, C.R.S. 24-72-201 et seq. The law exempts correspondence that is work product and all correspondence with constituents that clearly implies by its nature or content that the constituent expects that it is confidential. Any person can request records and they are not required to state a purpose. The custodian of the records is not allowed to ask why the material is being requested. Colorado law includes a three day deadline for a response.
There is no central location to submit all CORA requests, as a result each state agency or office of interest must be contacted. Want to avoid the hassle of identifying who to contact and how to request documents or would like your request to remain anonymous? Let us do the work for you.