Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act is a United States federal statute enacted in 1966 to promote government transparency and the free exchange of public information. Under FOIA, any individual can request federal... more +
The Freedom of Information Act is a United States federal statute enacted in 1966 to promote government transparency and the free exchange of public information. Under FOIA, any individual can request federal agency records and enforce that right in a court of law. However, not all agency records can be requested; there are nine exempt categories of information. In addition to the federal law, many states have passed their own freedom of information acts. These acts are often similar but not always identical to the federal version.  less -
News & Analysis as of

Loose Lips Sink Ships: The Limits of the Attorney-Client Privilege and the Dangers of “Public” Reliance Upon Your Attorney’s...

Public agencies often secure opinions from legal counsel to guide their actions. However, these agencies should be aware that what they say in public about the advice given may jeopardize the confidentiality of the legal...more

Government Contracting, The False Claims Act and the Art of Voluntary Disclosures

With so many personal gadgets needing daily recharging, desktop hard drives running 24 hours a day, and DVRs recording movies that run while we’re asleep, do you wonder where all that electricity is coming from? The next big...more

Weekly Update Newsletter - September 2014

In this issue: - GSA OASIS and OASIS Small Business Contracts are Ready for Business - DoD Issues Proposed Rule to Update FOIA Program - Has the IRS Become Gun-Shy on Regulating Nonprofits? -...more

The Police Have The Right To Remain Silent Too: The Supreme Court Rules On The Disclosure Of Police Reports Under The FOIA

The Connecticut Supreme Court has resolved an intense debate about what law enforcement agencies are required to release with regard to arrest records and associated reports. This decision could affect the ability of school...more

Back to School OMA/FOIA Update: Public Access Counselor (PAC) Decisions this Summer

The summer is nearly behind us, and it has been a busy summer for the Public Access Counselor (PAC) office of the Illinois Attorney General, which issued five binding decisions since May on Open Meetings Act (OMA) and Freedom...more

Just The Facts: Charter Schools (and Cutting Through Some Myths and Hot Air)

As anyone reading the newspapers can observe, Connecticut charter schools are receiving some unwanted attention these days due to: 1) a myriad of issues involving a charter school management company; and 2) virulent attacks...more

Government Contracting and Procurement Update: Public Access to Trade Secrets in Proposals and Bid Documents in Maine

Those doing business with the State of Maine need to know their way around public records laws. What is the risk that sensitive business information included within a bid response to a request for proposal (RFP) may become...more

High Court Rules Autopsy Reports Exempt from the SC Freedom of Information Act - Public Policy & Governmental Affairs Alert

The South Carolina Supreme Court issued an opinion this week in Perry v Bullock. The Court ruled that an autopsy report is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") disclosure requirements. This is the...more

"Nonprofit Traps and Pitfalls"

Many of us lawyers are involved with nonprofits. Some of us assist clients in incorporating and providing legal advice to nonprofits, and others of us serve on nonprofit boards. Nonprofit law is surprisingly complex. ...more

Tales From The Green Room: My FOIA Book, My Television Interview and Why Public Agencies Should Care

On June 7th, 2014, I had the good fortune of being the guest on Focus on Connecticut, which is a weekly, half-hour public affairs show on “News 12 Connecticut.” The show is hosted by Tom Appleby, a veteran news journalist in...more

South Carolina Supreme Court Rules in FOIA Case - Public Policy & Governmental Affairs Alert

The South Carolina Supreme Court recently issued an opinion in Lambries v Saluda County Council. The high court ruled that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act prohibits a public body from adding an agenda item(s)...more

Launch of openFDA Increases Accessibility to Adverse Drug Event Reports

On June 2, 2014, the Food and Drug Administration launched openFDA, a program designed to improve access to publicly available data beginning with adverse event reports. While greater accessibility to adverse event reports...more

Update on Recent FOIA and OMA Illinois Supreme Court and Attorney General Opinions

- The Illinois Supreme Court rules state's attorneys are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. - The Illinois attorney general rules that: (i) the Open Meetings Act requires public bodies to recite the key terms of...more

Grand Opening of openFDA.gov

Information is power, and as of this month, there’s a new power source of information about drug effects. openFDA.gov is an initiative of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand access to and use of reports of...more

Getting What You Need Under FOIA

As an attorney, you have a duty to do an adequate investigation before asserting any claim, but your investigation can’t intrude on others’ privacy rights. Getting public record information is one way to get what you need...more

How A Public Records Act Request Can Be Better Than A Subpoena Duces Tecum

The California counterpart to the Freedom of Information Act (aka FOIA) is the Public Records Act, Government Code Section 6250 et seq. In a recent unpublished decision, the Court of Appeal succinctly explains why submitting...more

FDA Launches Huge Online Database of Adverse Events

As part of the Obama administration's effort to make public information more accessible, the FDA launched openFDA on June 2, 2014. This new database makes nearly 4 million pharmaceutical adverse event reports the FDA...more

Illinois Supreme Court Holds State's Attorneys Subject to State FOIA

In the closing days of the recently concluded May term of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Court opened up the State’s Attorneys around the state to increased public scrutiny. In an opinion by Justice Lloyd Karmeier for a...more

United States Trade Secrets Law

The America Invents Act (AIA) changes the traditional calculus in determining whether to seek patenting an invention or to maintain it as a trade secret. This shift in intellectual property protection is the result of two...more

Iowa Case Highlights Often Overlooked Risk of Releasing Personal Emails in Public Records Requests

As a frequent advisor to school districts on freedom of information requests, the question I face most often is how a public body can protect a sensitive document from release. ...more

Myth No. 7: Our business information is safe with the government

There are a myriad of ways that doing business with the Federal Government differs from the commercial sector, and protection of a company’s sensitive business information is one of them. The most important thing for you to...more

Court Allows Agency To Withhold Certain Historical Records Under FOIA

Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling in allowing the CIA to withhold a draft of one volume of a history of the Bay of Pigs Invasion under FOIA Exemption 5, the exemption for "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or...more

St. Tammany Parish (LA) Citizens Group Seeks TROs to Halt Permitting Process for Proposed Well

A citizens group named Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany has filed applications for temporary restraining orders in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Louisiana in New Orleans and the Louisiana 19th...more

Warning-Your E-mail Just Became a Meeting: Mauer v. Member, Board of Education, Regional School District No. 1 and The Dangers of...

Often times, I will warn school board members against the use of e-mail to conduct board business. My primary concern is that such e-mails could be deemed to constitute an illegal un-noticed/non-public meeting, in violation...more

The FOIA and Superintendent Evaluations: Toensing and The Various Components of The Evaluation

When evaluating superintendents of schools, school boards usually seek to synthesize the views of individual board members into a collective voice for the board. In Toensing v. Chairman, All Boards Chairs Committee, Regional...more

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