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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Access to Government Information in the United States

Access to Government Information in the United States

Date: January 23, 2003
Creator: Relyea, Harold C.
Description: 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 (5 U.S.C. 552) and the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a)—and two meetings access statutes—the Federal Advisory Committee Act (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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Access to Government Information in the United States

Access to Government Information in the United States

Date: January 7, 2005
Creator: Relyea, Harold C.
Description: 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 (5 U.S.C. 552) and the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a) — and two meetings access statutes — the Federal Advisory Committee Act (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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Access to Government Information In the United States

Access to Government Information In the United States

Date: April 23, 2007
Creator: Relyea, Harold C. & Kolakowski, Michael W.
Description: 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 and the Privacy Act — and two meetings access statutes — the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Government in the Sunshine Act. This report provides background on the issue of government transparency and examines relevant litigation.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Access to Government Information In the United States

Access to Government Information In the United States

Date: March 13, 2008
Creator: Relyea, Harold C. & Ginsberg, Wendy
Description: 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 and the Privacy Act — and two meetings access statutes — the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Government in the Sunshine Act. This report provides background on the issue of government transparency and examines relevant litigation.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Access to Government Information In the United States

Access to Government Information In the United States

Date: January 23, 2003
Creator: Relyea, Harold C.
Description: 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 and the Privacy Act — and two meetings access statutes — the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Government in the Sunshine Act. This report provides background on the issue of government transparency and examines relevant litigation.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Access to Government Information In the United States

Access to Government Information In the United States

Date: December 5, 2007
Creator: Relyea, Harold C. & Kolakowski, Michael W.
Description: 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 and the Privacy Act — and two meetings access statutes — the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Government in the Sunshine Act. This report provides background on the issue of government transparency and examines relevant litigation.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Access to Government Information In the United States

Access to Government Information In the United States

Date: January 7, 2005
Creator: Relyea, Harold C.
Description: 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 and the Privacy Act — and two meetings access statutes — the Federal Advisory Committee Act and the Government in the Sunshine Act. This report provides background on the issue of government transparency.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Access to Government Information In the United States: A Primer

Access to Government Information In the United States: A Primer

Date: August 31, 2009
Creator: Ginsberg, Wendy R.
Description: 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, the Privacy Act, and two meetings access statutes, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and the Government in the Sunshine Act. This report offers an overview of the four information access laws noted above, and provides citations to additional resources related to these tools.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Access to Government Information in the United States: A Primer

Access to Government Information in the United States: A Primer

Date: March 18, 2016
Creator: Ginsberg, Wendy & Greene, Michael
Description: This report offers an introduction to the four access laws and provides citations to additional resources related to these statutes. It includes statistics on the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and on litigation related to FOIA. In addition, this report provides some examples of the methods Congress, the President, and the courts have employed to provide or require the provision of information to one another, as well as a list of resources related to transparency, secrecy, access, and nondisclosure.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Census 2000: Sampling as an Appropriations Issue in the 105th Congress

Census 2000: Sampling as an Appropriations Issue in the 105th Congress

Date: September 1, 1998
Creator: Williams, Jennifer D
Description: The 105th Congress has debated the decennial census sampling issue mainly in the appropriations process, beginning with FY1997 supplemental appropriations legislation for disaster relief. In FY1998 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies (CJS), the Senate (S. 1022) instructed the Bureau of the Census not to make “irreversible” Census 2000 sampling plans, while the House (H.R. 2267) sought a moratorium on these plans, pending expedited judicial review of their constitutionality and legality.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department