Department or Program



When it was originally passed in the United States in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was the broadest and most comprehensive freedom of information law in the world. Based on the idea that the American people have a right to know about the inner workings of their government, FOIA allowed anyone in the country to request and obtain access to a wide variety of records held by federal agencies. Over the past half century, the law has been used by journalists and other concerned citizens to expose countless instances of waste, fraud, and mismanagement in government. However, half a century after it was originally created, FOIA no longer seems to be working as intended, as evidence suggests that the government is releasing less information to the public than ever before. This project examines FOIA’s development over the past 50 years, with a particular focus on three recent updates to the law that initially seemed to fix its problems but ultimately appear to have been ineffective. Why is a law that once worked so well to increase transparency no longer doing so? And what are the consequences of a more secretive government? Three explanations for the law’s recent shortcomings are discussed and analyzed.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Engel, Stephen

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file.

Open Access

Available to all.