Illinois Freedom of Information Act

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the primary Illinois law governing the inspection and copying of public records. The FOIA is grounded in the principle that the public is entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government. The Act provides the process through which the public can access government documents and records.

The University of Illinois, as a State institution of higher education, is subject to the FOIA. The Office for University Relations manages the FOIA process for the University. Specific information about the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and the University’s response process can be found on the Office for University Relations’ website.

The University’s Chief Records Officer and staff are responsible for coordinating the collection of material responsive to a FOIA request, reviewing the material, applying the proper exemptions (if any), making the appropriate redactions (if any), and responding to the requestor.

The operative language of the FOIA essentially provides that each public body shall make available to any person for inspection or copying all public records, except as otherwise specifically exempted by the FOIA. A representative sample of types of information that historically have been protected by asserting one or more exemptions includes the following:

  • Student educational records pursuant to federal law (FERPA);
  • Records revealing an individual’s personal information (e.g. SSNs, home addresses, home telephone numbers), the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
  • Administrators’ deliberative communications that are part of an agency’s decision-making process (i.e. the “deliberative process” exemption);
  • Attorney-client communications and attorney work product;
  • Information that would obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation; and
  • Trade secrets and commercial or financial information provided to the University by a third-party that is legitimately treated as proprietary and where disclosure of such information would cause competitive harm.