News & Resources

FOIA: “Meta-FOIA” and agency information systems

IRAP filed this lawsuit to compel DHS and the State Department to publish an index and descriptions of their major information systems. IRAP is also seeking records explaining how USCIS and the State Department process FOIA requests.

Impact

FOIA requires agencies to publish an index of their major information systems and their descriptions so that FOIA requesters can better understand what information agencies have and how to ask for that information. As a result of IRAP’s lawsuit, both DHS and the State Department published indexes, bringing them into compliance with this requirement for the first time.

In addition, IRAP sought and obtained records explaining how USCIS and the State Department process FOIA requests for immigration records. These records revealed questionable agency policies, and helped us understand how to craft more targeted FOIA requests.

Case status

The State Department and DHS have published web pages in response to this lawsuit. IRAP published its “Meta-FOIA” findings and hopes this information will be shared widely within the immigration and FOIA communities.