Transparency

'FOIA Machine' Aims to Help Citizens Request Public Records

Heaven knows the government tries to make it as hard as possible

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They say freedom isn't free. And that's certainly true of FOIA requests.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, any citizen has the right to request non-classified documents from any agency in the executive branch. But if these requests are deemed outside the "public interest," agencies may charge steep fees to fulfill them. And even if your wallet is spared, the process will certainly eat into your time.

FOIA requests can be painfully complex. The rules vary from state to state — and from agency to agency. Sometimes, you need a lawyer to navigate the labyrinthine procedures and exemptions, and that means, well, more fees.