FOIA 101: Tips and Tricks to Make You a Transparency Master

Whether it's your first request or your first request *today,* it never hurts to go over the basics. MuckRock's compiled a lot of FOIA advice over the years, and with this project, it's all in one place.

Basics / Intermediate/Advanced / MuckRock Site Guides / Exemptions / Agency-Specific Advice / Topic-Specific Tips / Presidential Records / Student Resources / State Maps / Ongoing Series

Suggestion Form

Basics

Fee categories

First time FOIA request flowchart

Five tips for beginners

Leaks and FOIA FAQ

What’s considered a public record?

Intermediate/Advanced

Appealing fee categories and waivers

Dealing with excessive redactions

FOIA inspiration from #IRE2017

Five lessons from “FOIA Strategies and Tactics”

How to get a faster FOIA response

Reminder that Congress is (increasingly) exempt from FOIA

Tips for better FOIA appeals

Searching for specific sections of records

Sunshine Week 2019 public records reporting round-up

What to do about “Still Interested” letters

What to do when an agency claims not to have records you know it has

What the 2016 FOIA reforms mean for requesters

MuckRock Site Guides

Assignments

MuckRock Assignments: Your newest tool for audience feedback

Tap your readers, followers, and fans to help crowdsource your FOIA finds

What we’ve learned helping crowdsource over 10,000 pages of government records

Crowdfunding

Give the gift of government accountability year-round with MuckRock Crowdfunds

Learn how to crowdfund your request on MuckRock from the pros

Getting the most out of DocumentCloud

How to explore MuckRock’s public archive of FOIA requests and releases

How to use MuckRock to look at your state’s public records law

Looking for daily #FOIA inspiration? Check out our new site, Muck.Rocks

We want you to build a project with MuckRock

Why can’t I upload my existing FOIA requests to MuckRock?

Exemptions

Federal FOIA exemptions overview

The Glomar “neither confirm nor deny” exemption

Agency-Specific Advice

CIA

The ultimate guide to searching CIA’s declassified archives

Using exemption codes to find documents hidden in CREST

Department of Defense

Tracking down Department of Defense contracts

FBI

A FOIA beginner’s guide to requesting a FBI file

The #AppleVSFBI FOIA Primer

Five ways to use FOIA to explore the FBI’s 110 year history

Getting your own FBI file

How to read an FBI file: A beginner’s guide

Telling the FBI where to search

What is an FBI background check?

NSA

A beginner’s guide to FOIA-ing the NSA

Topic Specific Tips

Autopsy reports

Environmental reports

The JFK assassination records

Immigration records

Mueller Report

A guide to the FOIA exemptions in the newly-released version of the Mueller Report

What will the Special Counsel’s Office release?

#NODAPL / pipeline records

Protest records

Private prison records

SF-86-gate

Presidential Records

Presidential records primer

Trump Administration records

White House’s FOIA exemption

White House visitor logs

Student Resources

College journalist’s FOIA guide

College sports records guide

FOIA 4 Kidz lesson plan

High school journalist’s FOIA guide

State Maps

MuckRock request data shows big difference in backlogs between states

Response deadline map

State by State records guide

Ongoing Series

#FOIAFriday Round-up

FOIA Slack Chats

Requester’s Voice interviews

State of State Public Records Laws

Sunshine Spotlight: Massachusetts

Suggestion Form

Image via the National Archives Flickr

128 Articles

This week’s FOIA round-up: Using FBI records to uncover hate crime history, medical marijuana takes a hit as cannabis becomes more legalized, and The New York Times calls for police transparency

This week’s FOIA round-up: Using FBI records to uncover hate crime history, medical marijuana takes a hit as cannabis becomes more legalized, and The New York Times calls for police transparency

In this week’s FOIA round-up, a photographer used Federal Bureau of Investigation records to track down the location where a man was murdered 50 years ago for a photo project on the white power movemnt, medical marijuana registry data shows a decline in the rate of medical marijuana patients, and the New York Times Editorial Board calls for a repeal of law that keeps police misconduct records secret.

Read More

This week’s FOIA round-up: The Interior Department releases redacted records regarding the Border Patrol assistance efforts and the criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis continues

This week’s FOIA round-up: The Interior Department releases redacted records regarding the Border Patrol assistance efforts and the criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis continues

In this week’s FOIA round-up, the Interior Department releases heavily redacted documents to regarding the deployment of law enforcement officials to assist Border Patrol at the U.S.-Mexico border, Michigan authorities issue search warrants for the devices of former governor Rick Snyder as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis, and the Intercept obtains emails suggesting the Tennessee governor’s office and Volkswagen worked together suppress the United Auto Workers’ attempts to unionize a factory in Chattanooga.

Read More

FOIA FAQ: Making the most of MuckRock’s document viewer

FOIA FAQ: Making the most of MuckRock’s document viewer

Longtime MuckRock readers might have noticed that there are two ways to link to responsive records on the site: A direct link to the .pdf on our server, or a link to the DocumentCloud document viewer on the request page. Wherever possible, we try to link to the latter, as it has a few advantages over your standard browser viewer that we’d like to highlight today.

Read More

View all...