Public Access Opinion 13-005

Designating FOIA officer and responding to requests

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 13-005
Date: Monday, April 29, 2013

A public body is required to have one or more FOIA officers designated and acting at all times and to provide notice of the procedures for obtaining records to the public in accordance with the requirements of the Act. A public body did not properly respond to a citizen’s FOIA request. The opinion reiterates: (1) that it is a “fundamental obligation of government to operate openly and provide public records as expediently and efficiently as possible in compliance with this Act" (5 ILCS 140/1), and (2) that the procedures for responding to a FOIA request are clear under 5 ILCS 140/3(d). It states the following: Each public body shall, promptly, either comply with or deny a request for public records within 5 business days after its receipt of the request, unless the time for response is properly extended under subsection (e) of this Section. Denial shall be in writing as provided in Section 9 of this Act. Failure to comply with a written request, extend the time for response, or deny a request within 5 business days after its receipt shall be considered a denial of the request. A public body that fails to respond to a request within the requisite periods in this Section but thereafter provides the requester with copies of the requested public records may not impose a fee for such copies. A public body that fails to respond to a request received may not treat the request as unduly burdensome under subsection (g).