About FOIA Machine
FOIA Machine is an open-source platform empowering citizens and journalists to write, file and track public records requests to various governmental and public agencies in the United States. This site helps users access government documents and data that are covered by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws allowing citizens to obtain information vital to the workings of their government.
The site is a free service operated by the non-profit MuckRock Foundation, and relies on donations for ongoing operations.
FOIA Machine was initially funded with a John S. Knight Foundation Prototype grant as well as more than 2,000 people who backed FOIA Machine on Kickstarter! Additional support was provided by The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is FOIA Machine?
- What can I do with FOIA Machine?
- What is FOIA?
- How do you make money from this?
- How I can contribute?
- Are there similar projects?
- Can I file requests without registering?
- Do I have to pay for the service?
- Would you sell my data?
- How do I know if my request was submitted?
- How do I track the progress of my request?
- Has anything changed from the original version of FOIA Machine?
- How do I contact you?
What is FOIA Machine?
FOIA Machine is an open source web transparency platform that helps citizens to prepare, file and track public record requests to government agencies.
What can I do with the FOIA Machine?
- Prepare a request under the Freedom of Information Act or with applicable laws for a given government agency
- Easily lookup the appropriate contact
- Track and update your request's current status
- Share a request with other FOIA Machine users
- Share your FOIA experience with other users
What is FOIA?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the United States law that allows individuals to gain access to federal records. Some records may be completely or partially withheld if the information falls under one or more of nine exemptions and three exclusions. Each state has its own public records laws, which are sometimes generally referred to as FOIA or FOI laws.
How do you make money from this?
This project is free because we believe information should be accessible and government should be transparent. For ongoing operations, we depend on (tax deductible!) private donations.
How I can contribute?
Use the platform and let us know how we can improve FOIA Machine by emailing us, or if you're a developer we'd love to talk to you about contributing to the site's development.
Are there similar projects?
Yes, there are several other projects to help you create and send FOI requests. We believe our approach is different. FOIA Machine is a platform that allows users to share requests and an open database that allows people to collaborate while creating a robust source of knowledge about FOI requests.
Can I file a request without registering?
No, you must have an account to file requests. However, you can share requests with others who do not have an account: The site generates a private URL for them.
Do I have to pay for the service?
Would you sell my data?
Definitely not. We respect your privacy and only collect the necessary information to generate a FOIA request. Occasionally we create reports about how the system is working and who is using it, but no identifying information will ever be published.
How do I know if my request was submitted?
You must manually submit your request to the agency directly. Afterwards, we recommend you call to make sure that they received it and are processing it.
How do I track the progress of my request?
You can track your requests by logging into FOIA Machine, where you will find your dashboard. Here, you can add new communications, notes of conversations, and update the overall status of your request.
Has anything changed from the original version of FOIA Machine?
The primary features remain the same, allowing users to create, track and share FOIA request. The current version of FOIA Machine is still up and running and will be until March 31, 2017. At that point, all users and requests will be migrated over to the updated platform. The new FOIA Machine is currently in an Open Beta phase and looking for feedback, bug reports, feature requests, and contributors, so please get in touch.
Future versions of FOIA Machine — including the current beta site — will not be able to send a request via email. Each user will be able to create requests and will be provided with suggested contacts and instructions on how to send your request. Although helpful in some cases, email functionality posed various technical and security issues that complicated the user experience in prior versions of FOIA Machine.
The original FOIA Machine source code will remain available to those interested in hosting their own version.
How do I contact you?
Email info at foiamachine.org.