FOIAengine Search Tips

Where is the Search button?

Searches occur automatically after you quit typing your search criteria. You don’t need to click a Search button.

Does the search engine use partial or exact matching in finding results?

Our search engine only finds exact matches. It does not look for matches with each word in a search phrase.

How do the filters work?

Use the filters to narrow your search. The filters are cumulative. If you have search terms in more than one of the fields, the search will require that all of the fields match before finding a result. Unless you are sure of your search strategy, it’s often best to start by using the Global Search field.

My search is getting no results. What should I do?

This often happens because you may have left search criteria in place from a previous search. If you think your search isn’t getting as many results as it should, make sure you click the grey “Clear Filters” button in the search form before searching again. You also might try erasing any content in the Global Search bar right above the search results area.

Sometimes you get no results because you are using too many filters at the same time, and they all must match your criteria before you get any results.


I can't find the agency I'm looking for. What's wrong?

FOIAengine currently includes over 20 governmental departments and agencies of interest to financial professionals, corporate executives, reporters, and others.

Every agency included in the current version of the product is listed alphabetically in the Agency search filter at the top left of the search form. Check there.

On some laptops and smaller computers, agencies toward the top and bottom of the list may not appear. If you think this is the case, scroll your entire screen down further and recheck the Agency list.

What's the best way to search for a person's name?

Personal names can appear in the Requester Name field or the Request Summary field. You need to be thorough in your searching to make sure you haven’t missed a name that is actually in FOIAengine.  

The best place to search for a name is the Global Search field immediately above the table of results. That makes sure the search looks for the name anywhere in the database. You also can search in the Requester Name and Request Summary filters. But don’t do all of these at the same time. Pick just one field to search in for each search.

Names appear three different ways … as “George Washington” or “Washington, George” or “Washington.” Try all 3 forms of the name before giving up.

Can I sort the results in different ways?

Yes, you can sort your results by any field in the results table by clicking on the arrow next to the field’s heading.

Clicking that arrow also reverses the sort. For example, all results are automatically presented in chronological order with the most recent requests at the top of the list. If you want to see the earliest requests that meet your search criteria, click on the arrow next to the field’s heading.

I can't find the Requester Name in the results. Where is it?

To view the requester name, along with several other fields of data about the request, you must click on the More Details link at the right of the request listing to be taken to the Details page.

How can I get more information about a FOIA request?

Click on the More Details link at the right side of the listing. This will take you to the Details page, where you have two options on the right side of the page.

The first option is to ask our AI chatbot questions about the organizations, people or any technical terminology mentioned in the request. This feature use uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT capability to answer your question.

The second option is to ask our staff using the other form on the Detailsl page to pose a question that will be sent directly to us at PoliScio Analytics.

I'm not finding as much detail as I would like about a FOIA request or I'm seeing spelling or punctuation mistakes.

FOIAengine’s data includes all of the content about each request that is published in the FOIA logs maintained and made public on the website of the relevant agency or department. Agencies differ greatly in the detail they include in their logs, the frequency they publish the logs, and their punctuality in publishing them. You can trust that, if FOIAengine doesn’t have it, the information has not yet been made available. 

FOIAengine presents the request information exactly as it is provided by the relevant agency. We make no edits or corrections.  

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