Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act is a United States federal statute enacted in 1966 to promote government transparency and the free exchange of public information. Under FOIA, any individual can request federal... more +
The Freedom of Information Act is a United States federal statute enacted in 1966 to promote government transparency and the free exchange of public information. Under FOIA, any individual can request federal agency records and enforce that right in a court of law. However, not all agency records can be requested; there are nine exempt categories of information. In addition to the federal law, many states have passed their own freedom of information acts. These acts are often similar but not always identical to the federal version.  less -
News & Analysis as of

OIG Report Praises SEC Whistleblower Program

The internal watchdog for federal government agencies, including the SEC, is the Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”), which conducts audits and investigations of the SEC to “promote integrity, economy, efficiency, and...more

FOIA Requests: Boards of Education May Now Impose an Hourly Search Fee

A recent decision by the West Viginia Supreme Court of Appeals has now paved the way for public bodies, including boards of education, to impose a reasonable hourly search fee for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests....more

D.C. federal court reconsiders decision on FOIA requests to CFPB

Last September, a federal district court in Washington, D.C. issued an opinion on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests made by Judicial Watch to the CFPB for documents relating to Richard Cordray’s recess appointment as...more

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense: Employers’ Use of The FOIA For Background Checks

In representing primarily public sector bodies over most of my career, I have generally been in a position of advising clients in how to comply with Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests, and thus usually assist those...more

Courts Provide Guidance On FOIA Attorney’s Fee Provision And Creation Of Records

In two recent cases, Illinois courts provided guidance on when a party is a “prevailing party” under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for purposes of obtaining attorney’s fees and whether a public body is...more

Newspaper publisher sues CFPB for documents on headquarters renovation

We recently reported that the CFPB had issued its first Annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Report which provided statistical information for FOIA requests the CFPB received in FY 2013. It turns out that one of those...more

CFPB issues FOIA reports

Last week, the CFPB issued its first Annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Report, which was accompanied by the report of its Chief FOIA Officer. The Chief FOIA Officer’s report contains narrative answers to a series of...more

Oops and the FOIA, Part One; Kadri v. Groton Board of Education and Protections From the Accidental Disclosure of Attorney-Client...

What happens when your agency’s lawyer sends out a confidential letter that is somehow leaked? A relatively recent decision by the Freedom of Information Commission [“FOIC”] appears to indicate that all is not lost, as...more

What's Pending on the Illinois Supreme Court's Advisement Docket?

As we near the opening of the March docket, it's time to take a look at the civil cases that are argued and pending for decision before the Illinois Supreme Court. The Court is quite up-to-date on its docket at the moment,...more

School District’s Refusal to Release Bullying Investigation Report Upheld

While the Freedom of Information Act [“FOIA”] generally seeks to provide access to records created by public agencies, and while anti-bullying laws require that parents be notified by a school district with regard to the...more

Novel IRS Guidance on HRAs, VEBAs and Domestic Partner Benefits

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently provided guidance on several issues never before addressed. The guidance came in the form of a Private Letter Ruling (PLR), to be released later this year to the public under the...more

Public Bodies May Charge 15 Cents For Black And White Standard Sized Copies Of FOIA Documents Even If Actual Copying Cost Is Lower

The Illinois Appellate Court recently held that a public body may charge up to 15 cents for copying for each page of black and white, letter or legal sized documents responsive to a FOIA request, even if the actual cost of...more

Good Cop or Bad Cop: The Public’s Right to Know

As you may have learned through media reports or your favorite television cop show, allegations of misdeeds by police officers usually proceed through a police department’s “Internal Affairs” [“IA”] investigation process. ...more

Illinois Supreme Court Debates Whether State FOIA Applies to State's Attorney's Offices

Based upon the oral argument during the recently-concluded January term, it is not clear what the Illinois Supreme Court is likely to decide in Nelson v. The Office of the Kendall County State's Attorney. Nelson raises a...more

What Does Product Liability Mean Anyway?

Ralph Nader worked as a lawyer while he researched his 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed. The book focused on the Chevrolet Corvair, but many of the problems he detailed, including the lack of standard seatbelts, metal dashboards...more

CMS Issues New Policy on Disclosure of Physician Payment Information

On January 17, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will release Medicare expenditure data on specific physicians under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This new “transparency”...more

HHS Issues Policy Regarding Physician FOIA Requests

On January 17, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published its “Modified Policy on Freedom of Information Act Disclosure of Amounts Paid to Individual Physicians Under the Medicare Program” (the Modified...more

The FOIA and the Great Beyond - Personnel File Exceptions Do Not Belong to the Deceased

In a recent case, the Superior Court reminded us all about the limitations that exist under the so-called “personnel files” exception to the disclosure of records under Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). One...more

Illinois Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Five Civil Cases This Week

The civil portion of the Illinois Supreme Court’s argument docket for the January term begins tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. in the Court’s temporary courtroom on the 18th floor of the Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N....more

FOIA Settlement Advances Story on Civil Rights-Era Informant Records

A unique settlement in a Washington, D.C., Freedom of Information Act lawsuit has provided a Memphis newspaper unprecedented access to the FBI's informant records from the civil rights era, including documentation of the U.S....more

Private E-Mail and Public Officials: What's a Public Document?

The "Bridgegate" scandal in New Jersey involving an investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures has included many instances of Governor Chris Christie's top officials utilizing their own Gmail, Yahoo, or...more

Trade Secrets Trend To Watch In 2014: Government Regulations Requiring Public Disclosure Of Proprietary Information

In the New Year, one of the trade secret trends we’re watching is the ongoing tension between a company’s interest in preserving its proprietary information and the public’s demand to know more about the goods or services it...more

FOIA 2013 Wrap-Up – Summary Of Year End PAC Opinions

The Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) closed out the year by issuing two binding opinions. The following is a summary of key points from the opinions of which public bodies should be aware....more

ACLU Seeks FHFA Documents On Eminent Domain Analysis

On December 5, ACLU-affiliated entities and borrower advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California seeking to compel FHFA to produce “all [FHFA] records pertaining to the use of eminent domain to...more

Court Rules That Delayed Compliance With A FOIA Request Remains A Violation

In a recent Illinois Appellate Court decision, the Court held that a public body was in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) where the public body initially willfully ignored its obligation to respond to a FOIA...more

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