What is the Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was a 1966 act which gave Americans increased access to federal government documents and records. It was amended in 1996 by the Electronic Freedom of Information Act amendments to provide access to this information electronically.
What is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request?
A Freedom of Information Act request is a request filed to receive federal government records.
What information is public?
Government records like letters, papers, reports, films, computer tapes, photographs and sound recordings possessed or controlled by a government agency are considered public. There are several exemptions: messages or calendars created for personal convenience rather than official agency purpose are exempt, confidential personnel matters, as well as physical objects which cannot be reproduced.
For more information, read How to Use the Federal FOI Act.
Public records in Arizona
The Arizona Public Records Law outlines the duties of officers and public bodies to maintain records, defines what qualifies as a public record, the rights of citizens to examine these records, and whether an individual may incur fees in obtaining these records.
The Arizona Ombudsman has published an online book that explains the Public Records laws in detail.
What is the Arizona Open Meetings Law?
The Arizona Open Meetings Law states that “[a]ll meetings of any public body shall be public meetings and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings.” Individuals attending meetings are allowed to record the meetings with a “tape recorder or camera or any other means of sonic reproduction, provided that there is no active interference with the conduct of the meeting.”
Where can I learn to file an Arizona Public Records Request?
The Goldwater Institute's Carrie Ann Sitren created a guide that walks you through the entire process. 10 Step Guide to Arizona Public Records Requests
The Arizona Ombudsman Citizens’ Aide provides a 7-step guide to obtaining public records.
The Student Press Law Center offers a free state public records request letter generator.
Links to Arizona laws:
- Arizona Open Meetings Law Title 38
- Arizona Public Records Act Title 39
- Abridged Version of the Title 39 Public Records Act
Federal government links:
- Principal FOIA Contacts at Federal Agencies
- Citizen’s Guide to Using the Federal Freedom of Information Act
- FCC Freedom of Information Act
- Freedom of Information Act
- Federal FOIA Letter Generator
- Sample FOIA letters from the National Institute of Standards and Technology
- Federal FOIA Ombudsman (OGIS)