The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The FOIA is a federal law that gives you the right to access information held by federal government agencies, including SAMHSA.

What is the FOIA?

Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1966 and later amended it. The FOIA gives U.S. citizens the right to access federal agency records so they can understand their government's operations and activities.

The FOIA requires that all federal agencies must disclose records to any person who makes a request in writing. However, SAMHSA and the other agencies protect privileged information. They cannot release material that falls within the nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the FOIA.

The FOIA applies only to federal agencies and does not provide for the right to access records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies. Each state has its own public access laws that you can consult for access to state and local records.

Led by the President of the United States, the Executive Branch is responsible for the administration of the FOIA. The Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy oversees agency compliance with the FOIA.


Federal Government FOIA Information and Resources

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provide information and resources about the FOIA law, regulations, and exemptions. Both departments also provide answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and reference materials to help you in the FOIA submission process:

The FOIA Law and Regulations


Last Updated: 05/29/2014