Attorney General Biden is committed to open and accessible government.
In 1977 the General Assembly passed Delaware's Freedom of Information Act to insure that government be open and accountable to the people.
Information on Open Government & FOIA.
1. Are there
any branches of government to which FOIA does not apply?
FOIA does not apply to the General Assembly or to the courts.
They have their own rules for making proceedings and records
open and available to the public.
2. Are there any government
meetings that the public cannot attend?
The public can be excluded from meetings of less than a quorum
(usually a majority of the members) of a public body. Anyone
who is being disruptive of a public meeting can be excluded.
Executive sessions--meetings closed to the public-- may be
held to discuss personnel and other confidential matters, or
to obtain legal advice from an attorney. Public bodies made up
of one person do not have to have public meetings, nor do
certain Boards, such as the Board of Pardons and Parole.
Deliberations of certain Commissions, such as the Human
Relations Commission, are not open to the public. The public
can be excluded from meetings of the caucuses of the Delaware
Senate or House of Representatives.
3. How can the public find
out about government meetings?
Generally, a public body must post notice of the date, time
and place of a regular meeting at least 7 days in advance. The
notice must include an agenda listing the main items of public
business to be discussed, if one is available. Notice must be
clearly posted where the public body’s principle office, or,
if there is none, where it regularly meets. In addition, State
agencies must post their meetings on the State
of Delaware website.
4. Does the public have a right to speak at a public
Not under FOIA, which only gives the public the right to
observe. Each public body has its own rules and procedures for
public meetings, which must meet certain legal and
constitutional standards regarding fairness and
non-discrimination. The Department of Justice encourages
public bodies to allow citizen participation.
5. What kind of access does the public have to government
FOIA requires that the public body provide the public a
reasonable time and place to inspect records and reasonable
facilities for making copies.
6. Are there records the public does not have access to?
FOIA and other state and federal laws prohibit disclosure of
certain information, including,
* Medical, personnel or student records
* Tax returns
* Social Security numbers
* Welfare records
* Family Services records
* Criminal history records
* Investigative files
* Prisoner records
* Department of Motor Vehicles records
Moreover, except for the minutes of meetings of a public body,
FOIA does not create an obligation for a public body to retain
or create a record.
7. How should a records request be made?
A FOIA request should be directed to the public body that has
custody or control of the records. Many public bodies have
information on their websites about how to make a FOIA request
to that entity. Unless the public body has rules or forms for
FOIA requests, no specific form is required. However, a
request for records should be made in writing and should make
clear that it is a FOIA request.
8. How long does a public
body have to respond to a FOIA request for records?
FOIA requires that a response giving or denying access
be made as soon as possible, but not later than 15 business
days from the day the request is received. However, if the
request is for voluminous records, requires legal advice, or
is for records in storage or archived, the public body must so
inform the requestor within the 15 business days, and a
reasonable time in which to give or deny access is then
9. What charges
can a public body make for providing records?
FOIA requires that there be a reasonable charge for copying
costs. FOIA does not make any provision for those charges to
10. What can a member of the public do if denied access to
a public meeting or to a public record?
* INVESTIGATION BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.
If you believe that a public body has violated, or is about to
violate, FOIA you may petition the Attorney General to
investigate the alleged violation.
Attn: FOIA Deputy Attorney General
Delaware Department of Justice
Attn: FOIA Deputy Attorney General
820 N. French Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
* BRINGING A
If the Department of Justice has determined that FOIA was
violated, the person complaining of the violation may make a
written request to the Attorney General to bring suit in
court. But, regardless of investigation by the Department of
Justice, anyone who believes their rights under FOIA have been
violated may file suit in state court. Please be aware that
time limits apply.