Access to Government Information in the United States
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
Pagination or Media Count:
The U.S. Constitution makes no specific allowance for any one of the three branches of the Federal Government to have access to information held by the others. No provision in the U.S. Constitution expressly establishes a procedure for public access to government information. Congress has legislated various public access laws. Among these laws are two records access statutes the Freedom of Information Act FOI Act or FOIA 5 U.S.C., section 552, and the Privacy Act 5 U.S.C. section 552a, and two meetings access statutes, the Federal Advisory Committee Act FACA 5 U.S.C. App., and the Government in the Sunshine Act 5 U.S.C. section 552b. The American separation of powers model of government may inherently prompt interbranch conflicts over the accessibility of information. These conflicts are neither unexpected nor necessarily destructive. Although there is considerable interbranch cooperation in the sharing of information and records, such conflicts over access may continue on occasion. This report offers an overview of the four information access laws noted above, and provides citations to additional resources related to these tools.
- Information Science
- Government and Political Science