Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Record Creation Requirements of FOIA

As a general rule, the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) does not require a public body to create records – instead, it requires a public body to provide access to records the public body already has in its possession or under its control, subject to applicable exemptions. However, there are a few provisions in FOIA that do require the creation, retention, and, in some cases, the posting of certain records by public bodies. These requirements are listed below:

  1. List of documents or categories of records that are immediately disclosable upon request.
  2. Current list of all types or categories of records under the control of the public body. 
  3. A description of the manner in which electronic records will be provided to persons who do not have reasonable access to computers or printers.
  4. A brief description of the public body.
  5. A short summary of the public body’s purpose.
  6. A block diagram of its functional subdivisions.
  7.  Total amount of the operating budget.
  8. Number and location of the public body’s offices.
  9. Approximate number of full and part time employees.
  10. Membership of all advisory boards, commissions, committees, or councils.
  11. Description of the method by which persons can file FOIA requests.
  12. Directory of FOIA Officers.
  13. Address where FOIA requests can be directed.
  14. FOIA fees.

Requirement 1 is contained in Section 3.5 of FOIA and is required to be developed by the FOIA Officer. Requirement 2 is contained in Section 5 of FOIA and must be maintained and made available upon request. A public body could meet both requirements by creating a list of the general categories of records that the public body maintains, and identifying on that list which of the records are immediately available upon request. For example, records that are posted on the public body’s website (e.g., ordinances, codes, minutes, agendas) would be the type of records that are immediately available under Requirement 1, as well as any paper records that the public body maintains and could make readily available (e.g., zoning map, OMA total compensation chart).

Regarding Requirement 3, Section 5 of FOIA requires a public body to provide, upon request, a description of the manner in which electronic public records can be obtained in a form comprehensible to persons lacking computer knowledge or access. For example, if a person is unable to reasonably access electronic public records, the public body could make those records available for physical inspection or copying.

Requirements 4-14 are all contained in Section 4 of FOIA. These requirements must be displayed at the public body’s administrative offices and posted on the public body’s website. Requirements 11-14 could be met by posting a public body’s FOIA policy, if the public body has adopted one. Posting a copy of the current adopted budget would satisfy requirement 7. To comply with the remainder of the Section 4 requirements, a public body could create a record that contains the rest of this information, post it at its administrative offices and on its website, and then update the record on a regular (i.e., annual) basis.


Post a Comment