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 Harris County Public Health (HCPH).
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, HCPH 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.