The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is to ensure that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government, and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials.
The principle mandate of the Act provides that each public body shall make available to any person for inspection, or upon submission of a written request, to provide copies of any requested records that are subject to disclosure under the Act. Not all records are subject to disclosure, and the Act provides a number of exemptions.
This Act is not intended to be used to violate individual privacy, nor for the purpose of furthering a commercial enterprise, or to disrupt the duly-undertaken work of any public body independent of the fulfillment of any of the rights of the people to access to information (5 ILCS 140/1.) The first 50 printed pages are free; additional pages are $0.15 each.
Tips for making effective FOIA requests: click here.
Requests for information from County elected official’s must be submitted to the respective official in control of the records in order to comply with requests. Requests for records outside the authority of the receiving office may be redirected to the correct department. CLICK HERE for the FOIA submittal directory.
Non-commercial requests shall receive a response compliant with (5 ILCS/140/3) within five working days following receipt of the written or emailed request. Commercial requests are permitted 21 working days for response. In such cases, Winnebago County will:
(1) provide a reasonable estimate of time needed to comply with the request along with an estimate of the fees which the requestor will be charged;
(2) deny the request pursuant to a statutory exemption;
(3) notify the requestor if the request is unduly burdensome and allow the requestor to revise the request to manageable proportions; or
(4) provide the requested records. The five (5) day count begins the day after the receipt of the FOIA request by the Department Head, or designee. The requester may be notified of a five (5) day extension (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 (5) day period.
Information provided or denied under FOIA; however, certain documents may be exempt from disclosure pursuant to specific sections in the Freedom of Information Act (5ILCS 140/3(g);7;7.5). When a public body denies a request for public records, that body must, within five (5) working days, or within any extended compliance period provided for in the Act, notify the person who made the request, by letter, of the decision to deny the request. The letter must explain the reasons for the denial, and give the names and titles of all persons responsible for the denial.
To the extent that your request is being denied, you have a right to have the denial of your request reviewed by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General as described in 5 ILCS 140/9.5(a). Requests for review may be submitted to the PAC at:
Sarah Pratt, Public Access Counselor at the Office of the Attorney General
500 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: 877-299-3642, Fax: 217-782-1396, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This further provides you notification that you have the right to judicial review as provided under 5 ILCS 140/11.
Illinois FOIA FAQs can be found at http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/government/FAQ_FOIA_Public.pdf
FOIA - Request For Review By Public Access Counselor (PAC) Form can be found at http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/government/Request%20for%20Review%20Form%20--%20FOIA%20v1.pdf
For additional information regarding the Freedom of Information Act, please visit the Illinois Attorney General's website http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/government/index.html