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Public Health Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

A. The Delaware Supreme Court emphasizes public policies underlying the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to be to “ensure governmental accountability, inform the electorate, and acknowledge that public entities, as instruments of government, should not have the power to decide what is good for the public to know.” The Attorney General of Delaware further states, “It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that our citizens shall have the opportunity to observe the performance of public officials and to monitor the decisions that are made by such officials in formulating and executing public policy; and further, it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic.”

Q. Is all information covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

A. No, some information is exempt from release externally under FOIA. Some examples are:

  1. Personal, medical or pupil files
  2. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information
  3. Investigatory files
  4. Criminal files and criminal records
  5. Intelligence files
  6. Records specifically exempt by statute or common law
    • Federal statutes and regulations
    • State statutes and regulations
    • Constitutional exemptions
    • Common law privileges
  7. Charitable contributions
  8. Labor negotiations
  9. Pending or potential litigation
  10. Record of discussions held in executive session
  11. Persons with a permit to carry a concealed deadly weapon
  12. Public library users
  13. Department of Corrections records
  14. Investigative files maintained by the Violent Crimes Compensation Board
  15. Visual or audio recordings of postmortem examinations in the Office of Chief Medical Examiner
  16. Certain records that if released could jeopardize security of State facilities or of its political subdivisions, or could facilitate the planning of a terrorist attack, or could endanger the life or physical safety of an individual

Reference for this statue is the Delaware Freedom of Information Act Policy Manual published in 1997 by the Delaware Department of Justice. 

Q. Where can I find more information about FOIA?      

A. The full text of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can be found in the Delaware Code (29 Del Code, Chapter 100) .

Q. How can I request information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

A. The Division of Public Health has created an online form for this purpose.