Access to Government Information in the United States [June 13, 2007]   [open pdf - 72KB]

"The Constitution of the United States makes no specific allowance for any one of the co-equal branches to have access to information held by the others and contains no provision expressly establishing a procedure for, or a right of, public access to government information. Nonetheless, Congress has legislated various public access laws. These include two records access statutes -- the Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act or FOIA; 5 U.S.C. § 552) and the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 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. § 552b). Moreover, due to the American separation of powers model of government, interbranch conflicts over the accessibility of information are neither unexpected nor necessarily destructive. The federal courts, historically, have been reluctant to review and resolve 'political questions' involving information disputes between Congress and the executive branch. Although there is considerable interbranch cooperation, such conflicts probably will continue to occur on occasion."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, 97-71
Public Domain
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