Photo: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn yesterday ordered state agencies to fully and quickly respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and in a memo to agency directors outlined three key initiatives:

  • Stress the importance of FOIA. The memorandum states that FOIA requests are "one of the primary tools" for providing openness and transparency in state government and that agencies must presume "in favor of disclosure" when meeting FOIA requests.
  • Limit FOIA exemptions. Because the public has the right to know what state government is doing, FOIA exemptions will be applied narrowly, according to the memo. The goal, said the memo, is to strike a balance between public disclosure about government affairs and "protecting legitimate interests and policies" embodied in the FOIA exemptions.
  • Make more information available online. Agencies must submit a report within 45 days to the Governor's General Counsel detailing what information can be posted online. These reports will be made public.

Quinn also recently issued an executive order formally creating and empowering the Illinois Reform Commission, headed by former assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins, which is charged with examining government's ethics rules and practices. Upon completion, the commission will make recommendations for needed changes.