Illinois Freedom of Information

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act under5 ILCS 140, or Illinois FOIA, is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Illinois.  The law was first enacted in 1984.  The Illinois FOIA is based on an assertion in the statute that access to “full and complete information regarding the affairs of government” is “necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest.”

Under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, records in possession of public agencies may be accessed by the public upon written request.  Pursuant to 5 ILCS 140, Section 2 (c), a public record is “all records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, microfilms, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, recorded information and all other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared, or having been or being used, received, possessed or under the control of any public body.”  The law states further regarding this definition, “all records in the custody or possession of a public body are presumed to be open to inspection or copying.”  However, any public body that asserts that a record is exempt from disclosure has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that it is exempt.

The Illinois Open Meetings Act under 5 ILCS 120/1 legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.  Pursuant to the Act, “the people of the state of Idaho in creating the instruments of government that serve them, do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies so created.  Therefore, the legislature finds and declares that it is the policy of the state that the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.”


Inside Illinois Freedom of Information