Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides public access to government documents and records. As a state institution, Western Illinois University is subject to the Illinois FOIA (http://foia.ilattorneygeneral.net).
What should my office do when it receives a FOIA request?
Fax (298-1606), e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mail the request to University Relations, 302 Sherman Hall. Read through the request to become familiar with the documents and information that the requestor is seeking. A FOIA Officer from University Relations will contact you to discuss the request and any documents you need to provide.
How long do we have to respond to a FOIA request?
As soon as the request comes to a University employee, the University must respond within five working days from receipt of a request; therefore, if your office receives a FOIA request, it must be forwarded to University Relations immediately.
How can a FOIA request be submitted to WIU?
Request can be e-mailed, faxed or sent via U.S. mail, and must include the requestor's name, contact information, and a description of the document(s) sought. Requests can be submitted by mail to:
302 Sherman Hall
1 University Circle
Macomb IL 61455-1390
Fax: (309) 298-1606
Requests may also be submitted in person at University Relations, 302 Sherman Hall.
Are there charges associated with a FOIA request?
Black and white copies may be obtained for 15 cents per page after the first 50 pages.
Who has the right to inspect public records?
The Freedom of Information Act requires public bodies to make public records available "to any person."
What types of records are exempt from public inspection?
Public records that are exempt from inspection and copying include: information specifically prohibited from disclosure by federal and state law; files and personal information about students; personnel files and personal information about employees; test questions, scoring keys, and other academic examination data; information received by a college or university related to the evaluation of faculty members by their academic peers; course materials or research materials used by faculty members; and much more.
- Private information – “Private information” is exempt from disclosure under FOIA. FOIA defines “private information” as “unique identifiers, including a person’s social security number, driver’s license number, employee identification number, biometric identifiers, personal financial information, passwords or other access codes, medical records, home or personal telephone numbers, and personal e-mail addresses.” Under FOIA, “private information also includes home addresses and personal license plate numbers, except as otherwise provided by law or when compiled without possibility of attribution to any person.”
- Personal information that, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, unless the disclosure is consented to in writing by the person who is the subject of the information. Under FOIA, the “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” means the “disclosure of information that is highly personal or objectionable to a reasonable person and in which the subject’s right to privacy outweighs any legitimate public interest in obtaining the information.” Disclosing information that relates to the public duties of public employees is not considered an invasion of personal privacy.
- Law enforcement records that, if disclosed, would interfere with a pending or reasonably contemplated proceeding or that would disclose the identity of a confidential source.
- Information that, if disclosed, might endanger anyone’s life or physical safety.
- Preliminary drafts or notes in which opinions are expressed or policies are formulated, unless the record is publicly cited and identified by the head of the public body.
- Business trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is proprietary, privileged or confidential and disclosure would cause competitive harm to the person or business.
- Proposals and bids for any contract, until a final selection is made.
- Requests that are “unduly burdensome.”
Can denials be appealed?
Appeals of a decision to redact information from, or deny access to, public records should be submitted to:
Public Access Counselor
Office of the Attorney General
500 South 2nd Street
Springfield, IL 62706
Fax: (217) 782-1396
More information about FOIA, visit the Illinois Attorney General's website at foia.ilattorneygeneral.net.
WIU FOIA Officers
Chief FOIA Officer
Deputy FOIA Officer
Deputy FOIA Officer