The Freedom of Information Act was originally passed in 1966. Its purpose is to provide the public with a way to access information concerning activities of the Executive Branch of the United States Government. It has been amended several times to update provisions and to ensure that national security is not compromised through inappropriate release of documents. Its powers have been expanded and contracted over the years, depending on the attitudes of Congress and the Executive Branch and on events occurring in the world. The FOIA has been responsible for many disclosures about previously unknown events during the Cold War. The law has also enlightened the public and historians about the various activities of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure as director. It is also been useful in obtaining records that uncover misconduct by law enforcement and elected officials.
The Freedom of Information Act maintains the accountability of the US government to its citizens. It is vital to the principles of democracy and accountability. It is extremely important to have openness and accountability in government. This allows the public to ensure that their tax dollars are not being wasted and that the Executive Branch is carrying out its duties as the taxpayers direct, through their elected officials.