The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

*Michigan’s Governor and Legislature is not subjected to FOIA

  1. Find the FOIA Coordinator. Every government area must have one overseeing their area’s FOIA requests. A particular form for the FOIA request is usually available. 
  2. Know where in government you should ask for your information. Here is a list of agencies and the documents they normally have. Investigate this so that your request goes to the right location. 
  3. Be very specific. The easier it is for government workers, the quicker you will receive your information. Detail how you want your information, and exactly what parts of the information you want. Many documents will have dozens of information fields. Leave no question unanswered in what kind of specific information you want. 
  4. Government has 5 business days to respond but can ask for an extension or refuse/not respond to the request.
  5. Keep in mind there are exemptions to FOIA, most often these are documents withheld due to individual privacy concerns. 
  6. Keep in mind, you can be charged fees for the copying of pages and time put into compiling the information.
  7. Keep in mind, you can not access information that isn’t already available. City government is not under the obligation to create new data for you. 

Three different city of Detroit FOIA requests have specific forms provided: BSEED instructions, Det PD, and non-police form (law department)