Proposal could speed up FOIA responses


File folders sit in a filing cabinet. A proposal given at a Board of Trustees committee meeting would allow NIU President Doug Baker to appoint a FOIA officer and deputies who would gather information for FOIA requests. 

By Keith Hernandez

A proposal brought before a Board of Trustees committee Thursday would streamline NIU’s process for complying to Freedom of Information Act requests.

The proposal would remove Board of Trustees regulations over the FOIA office and give NIU President Doug Baker the authority to appoint deputies who would work under a single FOIA officer. The recommendation was created in response to constant changes in state law regarding FOIA and the rising number of FOIA requests, said Deputy General Counsel Greg Brady.

“The Board regulations are in the [FOIA law] that existed in May of 2010. FOIA has changed since then,” Brady said. “We could always apply to the law, yet the law changes. That would require us to come before the Board and change the regulations every single time.”

More than 450 FOIA requests are projected to be filed in Fiscal Year 2016, up by more than 50 requests filed in 2014 and more than 150 in 2013, according to data from the NIU FOIA office. Brady said deputies would be chosen by vice presidents from each division.

Jerry Blakemore, vice president and General Counsel, whose department would be in charge of training the FOIA deputies, said there wouldn’t be a cost associated with establishing the deputies as their jobs would count as added responsibilities. The deputies will mainly be in charge of information gathering while the FOIA officer will handle the actual requests and responses, Blakemore said.

The proposal will “allow the president or the person he designates as a FOIA officer to have deputy FOIA officers so that 500 plus FOIA requests can be broken down into the various divisions,” Blakemore said. “There’s no reason that the FOIA officer has to respond to that. So that will make us more efficient, and we can be more responsive.”


The Freedom of Information Act requires governmental institutions to provide access to public records with the exception of private information, including personal phone numbers and addresses, and identities of people filing complaints or providing information in enforcement proceedings, among other things.

Go to to make a FOIA request online, or to print a PDF version of the form.

NIU FOIA requests may be submitted to deputy FOIA officers Brady Hoey and Joan Laurino.