Digital access to government information: To what extent are agencies in compliance with EFOIA?

Shannon M. Oltmann, Howard Rosenbaum, Noriko Hara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Citizen access to government information is thought by many to be a cornerstone of democracy. The Electronic Freedom of Information Act (EFOIA), passed in 1996, established a legal right for people to request and receive government information in digital format and required agencies to provide specific information on their websites. Many commentators agreed that this law was a positive step and would improve citizen access to government information. This paper adopts a social informatics perspective to assess this prevailing view by examining the underlying assumptions about technology on which discourse is based. It then supports this critical assessment with an empirical investigation. First, compliance with Department of Justice guidelines was examined (following Gordon-Murnane, 1999). Then we analyzed the content of agencies' electronic reading rooms to determine if they were in compliance with the law. Our analysis determined that agencies are in better compliance with the Department of Justice guidelines, but many do not comply with the legal requirements. Agencies could improve their compliance with the letter and the spirit of EFOIA. In this way, our study contributes to bodies of research concerned with information access, social informatics, and digital government.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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