Skip to main content
Blog Post

The Legislative Evolution of the FOIA

The Justice Department maintains a collection of legislative histories, and has begun to make them available to the public as part of our ongoing open government efforts. As highlighted by the Justice Blog:
The "legislative history" of a law consists of documents created as a result of the legislative process during a law's consideration, passage by Congress, and signature by the president. A compiled legislative history assists in organizing the various documents that resulted in the passage of a law.  Attorneys and researchers are then able to efficiently search and review the compiled legislative documents to find legal clarifications [for] specific statutory language within the law.
The legislative history for the FOIA is one of the most recent additions to this collection.  This history compiles a wealth of congressional documents on the passage of the FOIA, which was signed by President Johnson on July 4, 1966. Since its original passage, the FOIA has been amended seven times and today we've updated our website to include the legislative histories from many of these subsequent amendments.  These histories contain a variety of documents including House and Senate reports, debates and speeches contained within the Congressional Record, Presidential signing statements, and bills introduced and reintroduced in both chambers of Congress. We also posted two Congressional source books, which contain over 1,000 pages of additional legislative and court materials, articles, and other documents regarding the FOIA. The new materials on our website include the histories of such important pieces of legislation as the Electronic FOIA (e-FOIA) amendments of 1996 and the OPEN Government Act of 2007, and we are working to collect and post materials regarding additional amendments.  You can access all of the department's posted FOIA legislative histories through our site. View all of the department's posted legislative histories.  
Updated August 6, 2014