International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview
Although the FOIA requires that federal agencies disclose documents to the public, the law contains exceptions to this requirement, known as "Exemptions." The exemptions are:
Exemption 1: Classified documents that must be kept secret in the interests of foreign policy or national defense (for example, CIA surveillance records).
Exemption 2: Documents that are related solely to an agency's internal personnel practices and rules.
Exemption 3: Documents that are specifically excluded by a law other than the FOIA.
Exemption 4: Documents obtained from a person, which contain trade secrets or financial or commercial information that is confidential or privileged.
Exemption 5: Documents that are interagency or intraagency memorandums or letters not available by law to a party other than a nonagency party in litigation with the agency. This includes common law discovery privileges, such as Executive Privilege (protecting advice, recommendations, and opinions that are part of the government deliberative process), attorney workproduct privilege (documents that are prepared by an attorney, relating to a proceeding in which disclosure would reveal trial strategy), and attorney-client privilege (protecting the communications between a lawyer and his or her client).
Exemption 6: Documents that are personnel and medical files and similar files that, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. This exemption requires the balancing of privacy interests with the public interest in a right to know.
Exemption 7: Documents that are records compiled for the purposes of law enforcement. Such documents are exempt from disclosure if their production: (1) would interfere with a law enforcement proceeding, (2) would deprive an individual of a fair, impartial hearing or trial, (3) could constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (4) could be expected to disclose a confidential source, (5) would lead to circumvention of the law by allowing the disclosure of law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or (6) could reasonably be expected to endanger an individual's life or physical safety.
Exemption 8: Documents that are contained in or related to reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for use of an agency responsible for supervision or regulation of financial institutions.
Exemption 9: Documents that contain geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning oil wells.

The last two exemptions are seldom asserted and seldom the subject of lawsuits.

The FOIA sets forth a detailed procedure that is to be followed once a member of the public makes a request for information from an agency. There are set times during which the agency is to respond and during which a member of the public may appeal a total or partial denial of FOIA request. Once internal appeal procedures are exhausted, an individual or entity still not satisfied with the result may file a lawsuit. Each agency has its own regulations relating to the FOIA requirements. These can be found in the Code of Fiederal Regulations (C.F.R.) under Information Availability.



Adler, Allan Robert, 1990. Using the Freedom of Information Act: A Step-by-Step Guide. Washington, DC: American Civil Liberties Union Publications Department.

Chandler, Ralph C., and Jack C. Plano, 1982. "Freedom of Information Act". The Public Administration Dictionaiy. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

FRIEDMAN, MILTON ( 1912-). The 1976 Nobel laureate in economics, acknowledged as America's most notable monetarist, who has persuasively argued the case about the efficacy of free markets for more than 60 years.


Milton Friedman was born in 1912 to immigrant Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York. At age 15 he won a scholarship to Rutgers University. He graduated from Rutgers in 1932, with a double major in mathematics and economics and then enrolled at the University of Chicago. He studied in the Economics Department under Frank Knight, whose tenets formed the central thinking of the "Chicago School."

The essence of the doctrine of the Chicago School was that since the dominant trait of humankind is avarice, it is useful to create an economic system that recognizes greed and harnesses it. This philosophy, called laissez-faire, has its intellectual origins in the teachings of Adam Smith, who posited the belief that self-seeking individuals must be allowed to pursue their own interests without interference from government.

Although lack of funds necessitated Friedman's leaving the University of Chicago within the year, the experience with laissez-faire economics left its mark upon him. Moving to Columbia University, Friedman began work on his doctorate, but he took time off while still a graduate student there to join the New Deal and, later, to work for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

He learned his simple and vigorous prose style at the bureau after being taken to task there for the poor quality of his writing. The new techniques helped his debating


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