About Illinois Docs:
Illinois Docs is a crowd-sourced data repository for any information relating to government operations, or any activity in which the public has a vested interest. We are not associated with any government, or any other non-governmental orginization, and we don’t have a profit-motive. Our only interest is in the capture and safekeeping of information.
Share your data:
Illinois Docs makes efforts to scrape data from publicly available sources, but we mostly depend on submissions from individuals who share our goal. If you have documents, images, video, or other information to which you think the public should have access, please consider sharing it with us. The more data we collect, the less able public bodies and officials will be able to hide under a cloak of secrecy. Our goal is to make information accessible to everyone.
Use Our Data:
The Freedom of Information Act:
A major hurdle in the pursuit of government accountability and transparency can be attributed to the difficulty in obtaining information and data directly from governments and public bodies. Illinois has a Freedom of Information Act designed to empower citizens in this effect, but governments frequently skirt the law and citizens can rarely corral the resources necessary to fight back.
Tactics commonly employed by public bodies to conceal information include: denying and delaying FOIA requests, providing incomplete documents, and hiding behind FOIA exemptions (often illegally). Other tactics include providing citizens with documents in unsearchable formats, handing over large quantities of redundant documents so that citizens have to wade through hundreds of pages to find any relevant information, and redacting documents without lawful justification.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office established the Public Access Counselor’s Office (PAC) a decade ago to resolve FOIA and Open Meeting Act (OMA) disputes between citizens and public bodies. Although the PAC is tasked to enforce the disclosure of records and increase government transparency, the process is often drawn out, requires extreme persistence, and there is little in place to ensure that public bodies comply with PAC opinions. Citizens still end up being shut out and public bodies continue breaking FOIA law. ProPublica Illinois wrote an excellent article outlining this problem.
We strongly encourage citizens who are shut out to consider litigating in court for documents. However, realizing that this is not practical for most people, please consider at least contacting us with information about your FOIA struggles. We want to know which public bodies, and specifically which people within that public body, are limiting records access.