Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a fee for requesting records?

For the majority of requests we receive, there is no fee. Some circumstances where we may charge a fee are for the following: 
1) 15 cents per page after the first 50 pages. The first 50 pages are free. This only applies to black and white, letter or legal sized copies.
2) For copies in color or in a size other than letter or legal, the public body may charge the actual cost for producing the records. This includes the actual cost of discs, tapes, USBs, or other mediums.
3) Other fees apply if a request is categorized as voluminous or commercial.
(5 ILCS 140/6)

What is a commercial purpose?

For a request to be considered a commercial purpose, the use of any part of or in whole of the public records are for sale, resale, or solicitation or advertisement for sales or services. There are exceptions for requests made by news media, nonprofit, scientific, and academic organizations.
(5 ILCS 140/2(c-10), 140/3.1)

What is a voluminous request?

1) Over 5 individual requests for over 5 different categories of records or a combination of individual requests that total requests for over 5 different categories of records within 20 business days or;
3) Requires the compilation of more than 500 pages unless it's a single requested record that exceeds 500 pages
For voluminous requests, the public body may request 10 additional days to fulfill the request.
(5 ILCS 140/2(h), 140/3.6)

How long will it take for me to receive my requested records?

Public bodies have up to 5 business days (not including Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays) to respond to a request. A response could mean supplying the requested records, denying the request, or asking for an extension. An additional 5-day extension from the original due date may be applied for any of the following reasons:
1) Requested records are stored at another location
2) A substantial number of records is required to be collected
3) An extensive search for records is required
4) Records cannot be located and additional efforts are needed
5) Consultation, examination, and/or evaluation is needed by personnel to determine if they are exempt or require redactions
6) Records cannot be compiled within 5 business days without unduly burdening or interfering with the public body's operations
(5 ILCS 140/3)

What information is exempt from disclosure?

Any information deemed to be private information may be redacted from the record(s) before giving them to the public. This might include social security numbers, driver's license numbers, financial information, medical records, home/personal phone numbers and emails addresses. Other personal information that constitutes a clear invasion of personal privacy can also be redacted. This could include date of birth, graphic photos, or certain victim information (5 ILCS 140/7). Record requests pertaining to juveniles who were investigated or arrested are subject to different criteria under 705 ILCS 405/5-905.

What makes a request unduly burdensome?

A records request that asks for all records within a category may be classified as unduly burdensome and denied if there is no way to narrow the request and the burden placed on the public body outweighs the public interest in obtaining the information. The public body must give the requestor a chance to narrow the request. Repeated, unchanged requests from the same person can also be deemed unduly burdensome.
(5 ILCS 140/3(g))

Can I challenge my request being denied or redacted?

Yes. A person whose request has been denied in part or whole may file a request for review with the Public Access Counselor within the Office of the Attorney General. This has to be done no later than 60 days after the date of the final denial. The request must be in writing, signed by the requester and include a copy of the request for records and any responses from the public body (5 ILCS 140/9.5). The PAC may be contacted through the following:

Sarah Pratt
Public Access Counselor
Office of the Attorney General
500 S. 2nd Street
Springfield, Illinois 62701
FOIA Hotline: 1-877-299-3642