The hardest part about competing in the government-contracting marketplace is uncovering business intelligence. In particular, you'll find that you won't be able to easily locate and acquire vendors' winning proposals. If you want to write your way to more contract awards, reviewing proposals that won contracts can work as your road map. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is one way you can access these proposals.

What is FOIA? What is a FOIA request?

The Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to disclose any records requested in writing by an individual that aren't classified in accordance with national security and aren't covered under the Act's nine exemptions and three exclusions (visit the Department of Justice website for details).

What are the limits to a FOIA Request?

FOIA does not grant the right to access records held by Congress, the courts, or government agencies at the state or local level. If you're interested in accessing records from state or local government agencies, note that each state has its own laws regarding public access to government records.

What is the FOIA request process?

FOIA request procedures vary from one federal agency to another. If you'd like to see an example of a FOIA reference guide, view the Department of Justice Freedom of Information Act Reference Guide.

To learn more about other agencies' FOIA request procedures, view a listing of other agencies' FOIA websites.

Whom should I contact regarding a FOIA request?

If you have a winning-proposal request, you'll need the point of contact at the federal agency that works specifically with FOIA requests. The U.S. Department of Justice offers a list of principal FOIA contacts at federal agencies.