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Course & Subject Guides

Declassified and Classified U.S. Government Information @ Pitt: FOIA and MDR Requests

This guide is designed to facilitate access to declassified or still-classified government information in Pitt's library system or on the Web.

The Law: The Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974

FOIA Requests

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. The following guides produced by various governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations provide useful information on filing a FOIA request.

Mandatory Declassification Review Requests

Aside from a FOIA requests, another method for obtaining documents from federal agencies is through Mandatory Declassification Review requests. This procedure was originally created in 1995 by Executive Order 12958. It was reauthorized in 2009 by EO 13526.

In contrast to FOIA requests, MDR requests:

  • can be made only for classified documents;
  • can only be made for specific documents, or a narrow range of documents the agency can locate with minimal effort;
  • if denied, can be appealed to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP);
  • can take significantly longer to fill.