Access to Government Information in the United States

Access to Government Information in the United States

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

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: 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