Monday, March 16, 2015 is National Freedom of Information Day. Freedom of Information Day is an annual event held on or near March 16, the birthday of James Madison. James Madison is regarded as the Father of the Constitution and an advocate for openness in the government. Freedom of Information Day comes from the Freedom of Information Act of 1966. On July 4, 1966, the Freedom of Information Act was enacted and came into effect on July 4, 1967.
As described at foia.gov: “The Freedom of Information Act is a law that gives citizens of the United States of America the right to access information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about the government. Under the Freedom of Information Act, agencies must disclose any information that is requested–unless that information is protected from public disclosures.” Frequently requested records are automatically disclosed as a requirement of the Freedom of Information Act. The Executive Branch, which is led by the President of the United States of America, is responsible for administering the Freedom of Information Act across the government. The Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy oversees all agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act directives and requires all agencies to comply fully with requests. So the next time you stop by your local library to look at the President’s Budget, the DeKalb County Budget, or the DeKalb County Code, you will know that this information was made available due to the Freedom of Information Act and the commitment of public libraries to openness in government.
If you want more information about the Freedom of Information Act and more, check out these books.
Secrecy Wars: National Security, Privacy and the Public’s Right to Know by Philip H. Melanson