Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
FOIA is the state Freedom of Information Act. On January 1, 2010, key changes to FOIA took effect.
Under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140), 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 new law furthers this definition, stating: "All records in the custody or possession of a public body are presumed to be open to inspection or copying." 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 following lists the types of categories of records maintained by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS):
For non-commercial purpose requests, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services must either comply with or deny a written request for public records within five business days after receiving it. Under certain circumstances, as set out under 5 ILCS 140/3(d), the five business day time limit can be extended for five additional business days. For commercial purpose requests, HFS has 21 business days to respond. In addition, a written agreement with the requestor can extend the deadline for response beyond the statutory time requirements.
Some records are, however, not subject to release via the FOIA process; these types of records are described under 5 ILCS 140, Section 7 and Section 7.5. In addition, some records may be subject to confidentiality provisions imposed by other state or federal laws; the FOIA process for disclosure of information does not supersede these other applicable statutory and judicial mandates.
Another key change of the new FOIA law is the establishment of the requestor’s right to seek a Request for Review of response issues by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) in the Attorney General’s Office, Public Access Bureau. The PAC can be contacted at:
Public Access Bureau
500 S. 2nd Street00 S. 2nd Street
Springfield, Illinois 62706
How to submit a FOIA request:
To access information from HFS, please submit a written request by means of facsimile, the U.S. mail or special carrier, or e-mail to the Freedom of Information Officer. A written request is required to ensure proper compliance with the requirements of FOIA.
HFS welcomes requests for information about policy, administration, budget and programs. Charges for black and white, letter or legal sized copies (8 ½ x 11 or 11 x 14) are free for the first 50 pages, and 15 cents a page thereafter. For color copies or abnormal size copies, the charge is the actual cost of reproducing the copy. If the request is in the public interest and the requester states the specific purpose of the request, there may be a very nominal charge. The cost for electronic records is the actual cost of the recording medium.
Requests can be addressed to:
HFS FOIA Officer
Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
201 S. Grand Ave. E., 3rd floor
Springfield, Illinois 62763
Facsimile number: 217-524-2397
This Web site information concerning the FOIA is being provided as required by Section 4 and 5 of the FOIA (5 ILCS 140/4). This Web site information may be revised and/or updated in the future.