The New FOIA Search Tool
Our FOIA Search Tool is designed to simplify the process of making FOIA requests and finding federal government documents. It can help you connect with the right agency to make a request, or find publicly available information quickly and easily.
How It Works
Our FOIA Search Tool uses a combination of logic and machine learning to deliver results. Here's how it all comes together:
Pathway Logic: First, our model checks if your query matches one of our predefined pathways based on common requests. This means you can quickly be directed to the right place for commonly sought records.
Agency and Component Matching: If your query doesn't fit a predefined pathway, the tool scans agencies and their components. It looks at agency names, acronyms, and mission statements to find the best match for your request.
Machine Learning: When neither predefined pathways nor agency matching provide an answer, our advanced machine learning model takes the stage. It digs into data from published FOIA logs and frequently requested documents posted in agencies’ FOIA libraries to suggest relevant public documents and agencies that closely fit your query.
Our machine learning models are fueled by two primary sources of information:
Published FOIA Logs: Many agencies publish FOIA logs on their websites. FOIA logs typically contain information about each FOIA request received by an agency. The specific details recorded may vary slightly from one agency to another, but generally, they include information on the request and a description of the response.
Frequently Requested Documents: The FOIA requires agencies to publish frequently requested documents in their online FOIA libraries. Where agencies have identified posted records as being frequently requested, those postings are included in search results as available public information that may be responsive to your query.
Join Us in Shaping the Future
We are currently in phase one of a multi-phase project, and we will make improvements to the FOIA search tool to make it more efficient and user-friendly. As the public interacts with the search tool, we will use data analytics to better understand how the tool is being used and the quality of the results provided. Through these efforts, we will adjust and improve the tool to better serve you. We also welcome your feedback. Please email National.FOIAPortal@usdoj.gov to provide input on the pre-defined journeys or the results generated by the machine-learning models. Your input will be invaluable as we work to enhance and refine the search tool.