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In the Beginning was the Request: A Street-level Perspective on the FOIA Process

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dc.contributor.author Wilson, Charis
dc.date.accessioned 2015-06-15T14:55:32Z
dc.date.available 2015-06-15T14:55:32Z
dc.date.created April 7, 2015 en_US
dc.date.issued 2015-06-15
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/3320
dc.description.abstract The United Nations has identified freedom of access to information as a basic human right. In the United States (US) that right is codified by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Although the FOIA constitutes a major component of US government information policy, the problem is that little is known about how the process actually works. This grounded-theory study examined how the characteristics of incoming requests impact the FOIA process from the street-level bureaucrat’s perspective. A preliminary literature review identified several request characteristics as potentially impacting the process, including wording, scope, subject, requester identity, organizational constraints, and interpersonal relationships. As the study progressed, additional literature was reviewed in response to themes and patterns that emerged from coding the interview results. Focused interviews were conducted with a convenience sampling of 10 FOIA officers from federal agencies across the US. Two additional participants provided written answers. The interviews yielded 32 focused codes, which included records management, conflicting rule sets, requester motivation, and organizational culture. Ultimately, six thematic codes were identified and used to develop an information environment model. The thematic codes are the request as stimulus, emotional response, internal information environment, external information environment, requester feedback, and the FOIA professional’s skillset. The study indicates that although a request’s characteristics can impact the FOIA process, the results originate out of interactions between the request and a FOIA professional who is operating within a larger information environment. Practice implications for FOIA requesters, senior agency officials, and legislators are discussed, and recommendations and suggestions for future research are offered. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject Freedom of Information Act en_US
dc.subject FOIA en_US
dc.subject Open Records en_US
dc.subject Transparency en_US
dc.subject Government Information en_US
dc.subject Privacy Act en_US
dc.subject Rehabilitation Act en_US
dc.subject Section 508 en_US
dc.subject Information Behavior en_US
dc.subject Street-Level Bureaucracy en_US
dc.subject Organizational Behavior en_US
dc.subject Organizational Constraints en_US
dc.subject System Theory en_US
dc.subject Information Environment en_US
dc.title In the Beginning was the Request: A Street-level Perspective on the FOIA Process en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.college slim en_US
dc.advisor Gwen Alexander en_US
dc.department information resource studies en_US

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