There’s a backlog of cases at the attorney general’s office seeking appeals of Freedom of Information decisions, and new cases keep coming in. It’s hard to keep up with the new cases constantly coming in, says Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who created the position of public access counselor in 2010, as a resource for members of the public whose request for government records – usually from local government – is turned down.
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“Last year, the monthly average was 336 (new cases). We’re already up to 350 this year, so it’s one of those situations, you know, if you build it, they will come, and so the challenge that we’ve had is staffing, quite frankly,” she told an Illinois Senate committee.
In its first year, the office took in 2,000 requests to have Freedom of Information Act denials reviewed. Last year it was 4,000. Of all the cases over five years, 80 percent have been closed, but 2,800 are still open, and 1,200 of those are more than two years old. Madigan says she’s trying to hire staff to reduce the backlog – she has 10 lawyers and five other staffers working these cases – but that takes resources.