TAMPA, Fla. — It’s described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about the government. The Freedom of Information Act, or, FOIA, enacted in 1966, gives Americans the right to obtain governmental records.
“We’re a government for, by and of the people and it gives the people the ability to see what their government is doing,” said attorney Virginia Hamrick with the First Amendment Foundation.
The United States Supreme Court has explained that the “basic purpose of FOIA is to ensure an informed citizenry.”
Here at ABC Action News, we often use FOIA to get inside information about government dealings to report to you, but you also have access to this information.
We asked Virginia Hamrick, a First Amendment Foundation attorney, what a FOIA request is and how you can request one.
WHAT IS A FOIA REQUEST?
“It is a request. It can be written, email. You can use the form that a government agency provides. Some agencies put a form online. It can be in-person and it’s a right to inspect or to get copies of records.”
“HOW CAN I DO A FIOA REQUEST?
“First, if you have internet access, I would search the agency and search for the public records custodian or how to submit a public records request. Try and do it online or find out who’s responsible online. If you don’t, you can call the government agency, whether it’s the law enforcement agency, the city, the county, the state agency. You can pick up the phone and call. You can also go in person to make the request.”
If you have any more questions about getting public records. Here’s a link to the First Amendment Foundation and their phone number.