FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: New search engine for gov't records

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

FOIA Mapper launches first-of-its-kind search engine for offline government records

PRLog, Mar. 29, 2016

Government agencies store an enormous amount of information in offline databases, far more than what is available online as open data. And in theory, anyone has the right to access it through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. However, the catch is that most government databases are not documented online, so there is no practical way of knowing what to ask for.

FOIA Mapper, a winner of the 2016 Knight Foundation News Challenge on Data, aims to solve this problem by collecting information about these opaque offline databases and organizing it into a searchable catalog - a search engine for offline government data.

Users can search FOIA Mapper for any topic and it will return a list of what information exists, which government agencies have it, the format in which it is stored, and how to request the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

FOIA Mapper also allows users to search a database of past FOIA requests to see what other people and news organizations are requesting.

The tool is developed by Max Galka, an entrepreneur and independent data journalist (Metrocosm).

Find more information at