The Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all agencies publish publicly their policies and procedures. Moreover, it establishes the right of the public to request any records the agency might possess. There are exceptions to this, for instance agencies do not have to release information if it contains issues of national security, trade secrets, or personal information on individuals. Agencies may charge a reasonable fee for the production of these records, but it may take months - or even years - for these to be returned to the requester. In an agency, these requests are commonly known as FOIA requests.

In general, agencies respond to FOIA requests directly back to the requestor. However, for many years many agencies have been pressured by watchdog groups to adopt a “Release to One, Release to All” policy, in which responses to all FOIA requests are made openly available online for the public to review. Although a limited six-month pilot was performed during the Obama administration in 2015, these were not formalized in most agencies.