Shine-a-light Inc. was created to obtain documents from the government utilizing open records laws including the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
FOIA is often utilized as a discovery substitute by lawyers and individuals in disputes with the Federal government that must be first heard by administrative agency tribunals. Many disputes that arise with Federal agencies must be first heard by an administrative agency tribunal before the dispute can go to court. The court then hears the case based solely upon the administrative record developed by the agency. In many cases agency hearing procedures limit the litigant to evidence in his or her own possession and that which is publicly available on the Internet. Such limitations are allowed even though the disputes may involve tens of millions of dollars.
Used early enough in the dispute process, FOIA allows litigants to obtain documents that show unexplained inconsistencies in the application of agency policy and the existence of silent reversals of policy. Such evidence might be grounds for an agency hearing official or judge to overturn the agency decision. The information can help members of the public in their dealing with the agency.
Shine-a-light was created by an administrative lawyer who was frustrated by the lack of full and fair discovery procedures at the administrative level. We obtain documents of public interest. Documents we obtain through FOIA are made available upon request free of charge.
Military and Veterans Law
Shine-a-Light has a particular focus on documents affecting veterans, although our efforts are not limited to that area. For more than four decades, the Department of Defense has been engaged in a cross-service effort to remove many regulations and policies affecting veterans from the published Code of Federal Regulations. While current policies are often available through use of the Internet, many obsolete policies are hidden away. Shine-a-Light seeks to gather such documents so they can be made accessible to veterans and advocates for use in pursuing claims for benefits.