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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Reference Guide

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which can be found in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, was enacted in 1966 and generally provides that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records. All agencies of the Executive Branch of the United States Government are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them, except for those records (or portions of them) that are protected from disclosure by the nine exemptions and three exclusions of the FOIA. This right of access is enforceable in court, and it is supported at the administrative agency level by the President’s FOIA Memorandum (January 21, 2009) and the Attorney General’s FOIA Memorandum (March 19, 2009).


The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a Federal law that gives you the right to access any U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) records unless DOT reasonably foresees that the release of the information in those records would harm an interest protected by one or more of the nine exemptions (such as classified national security, business proprietary, personal privacy, investigative documents) or release is prohibited by law. Our responsibility is to provide you with copies of the documents, or portions of documents, you are entitled to receive under the law, and we look forward to working with you to achieve that goal.

DOT Celebrates Transparency Successes during Sunshine Week

During FY 2010, the DOT made good progress in applying the presumption of openness, making proactive disclosures, and ensuring that DOT has systems in place to effectively respond to FOIA requests.  In addition, DOT reduced its backlog of initial FOIA requests by 38 percent and its backlog of FOIA administrative appeals by 12 percent. You can read more in our 2010 Freedom of Information Act Report and our 2011 Chief FOIA Officer’s Report.