Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The intent of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is to provide open access of government records to the public and to ensure that the public has access to information about their government and the decision-making process. The Act provides that each public body shall make available to any person, upon submission of a request, inspection, or copies of any requested records that are subject to disclosure under the Act. Not all records are subject to disclosure, and the Act defines those exemptions.

Requests & Questions

The FOIA Request for Public Records Form (PDF) may be used for submitting requests.

Purpose of Act

This Act is not intended to be used to violate individual privacy, nor for the purpose of furthering a commercial enterprise, nor to disrupt the duly-undertaken work of any public body independent of the fulfillment of any of the rights of the people to access information (5 ILCS 140/1).

The Act provides established timeframes for responding to FOIA requests. All written requests shall be responded to within five working days (5 ILCS/140/3) following the date the request is received. The requester may be notified of an extension of five working days if the files are voluminous, at different locations, or if other reasons make it impossible to assemble and mail the request out within the normal five day period.

Response to Requests

In addition, the public body has 21 days to respond to requests for records to be used for commercial purposes. This response may be to:

  1. Provide the records
  2. Deny the request
  3. Advise when the records will be provided and the cost associated with providing the records
  4. Advise the requestor that the request is unduly burdensome

Copies

The first 50 black and white copies of records requested through FOIA are provided at no charge. Copies over 50 may be charged at $0.15 per page for black and white copies. If electronic copies are available and requested, the public body may charge for the cost of purchasing the recording medium (examples: disc, tape or another medium). If a fee is due, you will be contacted with the cost, which should be paid prior to receiving the documents.

Denial of Requests Under FOIA

Under FOIA, certain documents may be exempt from disclosure. In addition, a request for records or documents which is denied must adhere to the guidelines established under the Act. When a public body denies a records request, the public body must notify the person making the request in writing within five working days, or within any extended compliance period established by the Act. The denial will include reasons for the denial and provide the requestor with the names and titles of the persons responsible for the denial.

Appeal of Denials Under FOIA

If you are denied access to inspect or copy any public records or documents, you may appeal the denial by sending a written notice of appeal to the State of Illinois Office of the Attorney General, Public Access Counselor at the following address:
Sarah Pratt
Public Access Counselor
Office of the Attorney General
500 S 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62701

Email the Illinois Attorney General
Phone: 217-557-0548 or 877-299-FOIA (877-299-3642)
Fax: 217-782-1396

Other Options

You may also seek a judicial review of a denial by filing a lawsuit in the State circuit court (5 ILCS 140/11).