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Public Disclosure of Administrative Agency Actions by Mind Map: Public Disclosure of Administrative Agency Actions
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Public Disclosure of Administrative Agency Actions

Agency actions are intended to be public record. As a result, the Legislature has enacted several Acts to ensure public access.

Government in the Sunshine Act

The Government in the Sunshine Act, also called the Sunshine Act, was enacted to open agency meetings to the public. There are exceptions to meetings which must be open:  1. Meetings about things exempt from disclosure under the FOIA;  2. Meetings about someone whom or in which someone is accused of a crime; 3. Meetings concerning agency issuance of a subpoena;  4. Meetings where attendance of the public would frustrate proposed agency action; and  5. Meetings concerning day-to-day operations of the agency. Decisions by an agency to close a meeting to the public are reviewable by the U.S. District Court.

Freedom of Information Act

The Freedome of Information Act, or the FOIA, was enacted by Congress to allow the public access to documents in the possession of federal agencies. There are exemptions, however, and the following documents do not fall within the Act:  1. Those classified to be in the interest of national security;  2. Those that, if disclosed, would interfere with law enforcement operations;  3. Those statutorily prohibited from disclosure;  4. Those that describe personnel practices;  5. Intra-and-Interagency memorandums;  6. Medical, personnel, and similar files;  7. Those that contain trade secrets, confidential, or privileged materials;  8. Those that pertain to operation of financial institutions; and  9. Geological and geophysical data and maps. The Act also requires agencies to publish their procedures, rules, regulations, interpretations, and other information in the Federal Register. There is a limited time frame within which the agency must respond to a FOIA request and limits on copying charges. Disciplinary action may be taken against someone who violates the provisions of the FOIA. Agency decisions not to disclose information is reviewable by the U.S. District Court.  

Privacy Act

Under the Privacy Act, agencies may maintain information about an individual, but only that information which is relevant to and necessary to accomplish an agency purpose. Individuals have the right to access agency information about themselves and correct their files.

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Equal Access to Justice Act

The EAJA was enacted to protect persons from harassment by federal agencies. If someone is subjected to unjustified agency action, the person may sue the agency and recover damages, including attorney's fees and costs. The agency action must be outrageous to fall under the Equal Access to Justice Act.