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Government Research

A guide to the U.S. system of government: how it works, how you work in it, and how you can utilize the information available to you.

Accessing Government Info and Data

Government Info and Transparency

OSTP Memo (2013)

In 2013, the Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memorandum, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research” (PDF), stating that all government agencies with research budgets of $100 million or more must develop a plan to make the results of that research (article + data) available to the public. This was followed by another memorandum, "Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset" (PDF) which ordered that agencies "must manage information as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote openness and interoperability." As a result, over the last several years, research and information produced or funded by federal agencies has become more and more available to the public.

Note: Unlike articles and other works published open access, which means free to read and reuse, public access works, while still free to read, are not necessarily free to reuse and may include an embargo period between being published and becoming publicly available.

OPEN Government Data Act (2019)

Since the 2013 memo, the Obama and now Trump administrations have generally supported increasing public access to non-sensitive information and data produced by the federal government. In 2019, President Trump signed an omnibus bill that included the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act, which made permanent some aspects of the 2013 data memo and established that government information should be produced as machine-readable data rather than documents. Federal agencies are now required, if they hadn't done so already, to develop an open data plan that ensures that data is in "an open format and under an open license," and those agencies will also have a Chief Data Officer to oversee the efforts.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests

Prior to the push for increased government transparency, the Freedom of Information Act (originally passed in 1967, updated in 2016) allowed the public a means of requesting access to records from any federal agency. There are nine types of information, known as exemptions, that agencies can refuse to release (for reasons of personal privacy, national security, privileged information, etc.), and three types of information that are excluded from requests in general (referring to criminal investigations by law enforcement or the Federal Bureau of Investigation) but otherwise agencies are required to comply with requests in a timely manner. Fees may apply.

Government Portals

Information About the Government

Census Information About the US

The U.S. Census, collected every ten years, provides a wealth of information about the U.S., including demographics, business and industry performance, and more.



Business and Industry

Federal Science

Laws & Legislation

Personal Finance

Legal Research

Library Database

Instruction & Scholarly Communication Librarian

Vicky Ludas Orlofsky's picture
Vicky Ludas Orlofsky
Research Services Department