Monday, September 21, 2020

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FOIA proves a simply complex document

According to guidelines outlined by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the Freedom of Information Act contains 12 subsections, and Each subsection is labeled with a lower case letter, and under it there is additional information specifying what should be made available to the public by public institutions.

The first section, subsection (a)(1) outlines the need for Federal agencies to disclose certain information in a “Federal Registry.”

This general agency information should include “descriptions of agency organization, functions, rules of procedure; substantive agency rules; and statements of general agency policy.”

Often this information is found on the home pages of the agency’s website.

Also, in subsection (a) under (2), agencies need to make available “final

agency opinions and orders rendered in the adjudication of cases, specific policy” as well as previously released FOIA documents. This section is called the “Reading Room.”

Subsection (a)(3) allows the public to file a formal request for information which must be “promptly released” unless it falls under an exemption listed in subsection (b), or an exclusion under subsection (c).

Subsection (b) provides a list of the exemptions, which were shared in the article “FOIA: what it is and why it is important for every citizen” in the Feb. 20 edition of the WRE.

Subsection (a)(3) also requires the agency to provide the “requester” with the forms in the form and format requested if readily available. “Subsections (a)(4) through (a)(7) of the FOIA address, among other things, fees and time limits, and require agencies to provide on request information about the status of the processing of a request that will take longer than ten days to process,” the DOJ FOIA guide indicates.

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