Public Access Opinion 16-011

Failure to Respond to a FOIA Request

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 16-011
Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2016

For the sixth time this calendar year, the PAC has told public bodies they must respond to FOIA requests. An individual submitted a FOIA request via email to the Housing Authority of Cook County for all correspondence between the Authority and the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation from March 1, 2015 to July 25, 2016. Eleven business days later, the Authority emailed the FOIA requestor, stating it had questions regarding the FOIA request. The Authority eventually obtained written clarification from the FOIA requester regarding the records sought, however the Authority never actually responded to the FOIA request. The Authority also failed to respond to the PAC’s inquiries. The PAC found the Authority violated Section 3(d) of FOIA by failing, within five business days after receiving the FOIA request, to provide the requested records, deny the request in whole or in part, or to notify the FOIA requestor in writing that it was extending the time for a issuing a response. The PAC ordered the Authority to immediately provide all records responsive to the FOIA requester, subject only to any permissible redactions under Section 7. Again, the bottom line here is that public bodies must respond to FOIA requests within the time permitted per statute.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.