NIU answers on FOIA staff don't add up, group claims
Northern Illinois University (NIU) is offering contradictory statements on its personnel tasked with responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, according to the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW), a citizens oversight group.
The ECW claims that an analysis of two official responses from the university leaves it unclear as to how many employees work on FOIA requests and what other roles they have at the school, if any.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Bureau is currently reviewing an FOIA request that NIU denied. The ECW said the university’s assistant general counsel told the group that two employees primarily respond to FOIA requests but also have other duties at the school.
Earlier this year, the school gave a different account to the Illinois Office of the Auditor General (OAG), the ECW said.
The OAG noted in its “FY16 Compliance Audit” for the university that NIU had not fully responded to FOIA requests or retained documents -- factors that made the school noncompliant with state laws. In response, the school responded that it “has dedicated a full-time employee to manage the FOIA response process,” according to the ECW.