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GOOD Citizenship Task 19: Use the Freedom of Information Act #30DaysofGOOD

It’s our job to keep the government honest.

Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for February? GOOD citizenship.

Find out how to use the Freedom of Information Act.

On his first full day in office, President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, calling for unprecedented openness and transparency in government and declaring “Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset.” The Freedom of Information Act is a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government.

The FOIA requires that federal departments and agencies proactively release certain information automatically without waiting to receive a formal request. In addition, the Attorney General’s FOIA Guidelines encourage agencies to systematically post information of interest to the public on agency websites. As a result, agencies are continually updating their websites with a wide variety of information and data and creating web pages focused on particular topics.

Even the most well-meaning government officials aren’t always on top of releasing every detail. This is where we come in. It’s our job to keep the government honest, to shine a little sunlight on the process. Each department has their own FOIA page on their site, usually found here: http://www.[nameofagency].gov/foia. Want to know how much the government is spending this year on fighter jets? Do a search on the Defense Department’s FOIA page. Want to know what the government knows about you or one of your neighbors? Submit your own FOIA request.

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Learn how to live like a citizen at The Guiding Lights Weekend conference on creative citizenship March 8-10 in Seattle.

Propose an idea to promote GOOD citizenship where you live for a chance to win $500 to make it happen.

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