The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs

Living Edition
| Editors: Phil Harris, Alberto Bitonti, Craig S. Fleisher, Anne Skorkjær Binderkrantz

Researching Issues and Stakeholders Using FOIA

  • John J. ThomsonEmail author
Living reference work entry


Accessing and analyzing public records is an important skill set for any researcher within the interest group, lobbying, or public affairs arena. Federal, state, and local government records can provide a very deep understanding around public sector key issues and stakeholders. While many records are readily available to the public via agency websites and various other online resources, an even larger volume of records tend to be more closely held and can only be obtained by making a special and very targeted request. At the US federal government level, this is called a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. At the state and local government level, this is generally called an open records or public records request (although the terminology and laws vary from state to state).

This entry describes the benefits and uses of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, discusses what records generally can and cannot be obtained, and illustrates the step-by-step process of making a...


Research Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Government records Public records 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aurora WDCAtlantaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Craig S. Fleisher
    • 1
  1. 1.Aurora WDCMadisonUSA