Getting and Using Information

Hiding in plain sight is one of the most effective strategies to advocate for access to government information–obtaining information under the current access policies and then making use of that information. By regularly exercising our right-to-know can we send a clear message to policy-makers that access is needed and useful to the public. There are several avenues available to obtain government information, including Government websites, Freedom of Information Act requests, and reading rooms. Once you have the information you have been looking for it is important to close the circle and use the information.

Government Websites


  •–U.S. Federal Government’s primary web portal
  •–U.S. Federal Government’s online portal for rulemaking
  • Thomas–U.S. Congressional legislative information
  •— government contract, grant and other award data

Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA as it is commonly referred to, provides advocates for access to information a powerful tool. Under the FOIA law anyone may request and receive any records from federal agencies and unless the documents can be officially declared exempt based upon specific categories, such as classified, confidential business information, privacy concerns, etc.

Reading Rooms

Similar to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), reading rooms are a standard government service that allow citizens to research and collect important information. Click on the links below to find more information on agency reading rooms.


For other agencies, see a list of links to electronic reading rooms.

Other federal entities: