|Submitted||Oct. 15, 2018|
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To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act., I hereby request the following records:
Please provide the source code for the system or systems used to calculate tax extensions.
This requests follows up on an May 5, 2018 FOIA request to the Cook County Clerk. https://www.muckrock.com/foi/cook-county-365/property-mainframe-systems-53184/
The Clerk's office responded with this information:
> The Clerk does not have source code that was written by the Bureau of Technology to perform tasks required by the Clerk in calculating tax rates. Any such code is held by the
> County's Bureau of Technology. Pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act we are unable to produce responsive documents to your request.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Illinois Freedom of Information Act. request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 15, 2018. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.
October 23, 2018
Dear Mr. Gregg,
The Office of the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners is in receipt of your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (the "Act").
On Monday, October 15, you requested "Please provide the source code for the system or systems used to calculate tax extensions."
Please be advised that your request is denied under sections 7(1)(i) and 7(1)(o) of the Act. Section 7(1)(i) exempts from disclosure "[v]aluable formulae, computer geographic systems, designs, drawings and research data obtained or produced by any public body when disclosure could reasonably be expected to produce private gain or public loss." 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(i). Section 7(1)(o) exempts from disclosure "Administrative or technical information associated with automated data processing operations, including but not limited to software, operating protocols, computer program abstracts, file layouts, source listings, object modules, load modules, user guides, documentation pertaining to all logical and physical design of computerized systems, employee manuals, and any other information that, if disclosed, would jeopardize the security of the system or its data or the security of materials exempt under this Section." 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(o). Thus, pursuant to sections 7(1)(i) and 7(1)(o) of the Act, the code used to calculate tax extensions is exempt from disclosure and will not be provided.
Pursuant to section 9 of FOIA, please note that the undersigned is responsible for this denial. You have a right to have the denial of your request reviewed by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. 5 ILCS 140/9.5(a). You can file your Request for Review with the PAC by writing to:
Public Access Counselor
Office of the Attorney General
500 South 2nd Street
Springfield, Illinois 62706
Fax: (217) 782-1396
You also have the right to seek judicial review of your denial by filing a lawsuit in the State circuit court. 5 ILCS 140/11.
If you choose to file a Request for Review with the PAC, you must do so within 60 calendar days of the date of this denial letter. 5 ILCS 140/9.5(a). Please note that you must include hard copies of your original FOIA requests and this denial letter when filing a Request for Review with the PAC.
Administrative Assistant V
Aide to Legal and Government Affairs | Office of the President
69 W. Washington, Suite 1415 | Chicago, IL 60602
PRIVILEGE AND CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail transmission, including all attachments, is confidential information belonging to the sender and the intended recipient, may be protected by the attorney-client privilege or attorney work product privilege, and may constitute non-public pre-decisional FOIA exempt information. This information is ONLY for the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any unauthorized use, disclosure, distribution (electronic or otherwise), copying or the taking of any action in reliance on this information is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please immediately notify the sender of receipt of the e-mail and then destroy all copies (electronic or otherwise) of the transmission and attachments. Receipt by an unintended recipient does not waive attorney-client privilege, attorney work product privilege or any other legal exemption from disclosure.)
The Cook County Bureau of Technology rejected by request for source code for the system or systems used to calculate tax extensions on two grounds, both of which seem invalid.
First, the Bureau cites 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(i), which exempts from disclosure "[v]aluable formulae, computer geographic systems, designs, drawings and research data obtained or produced by any public body when disclosure could reasonably be expected to produce private gain or public loss."
However, the source code for computer programs is not listed as the type of material covered in this exemption. Even if source code is included in this section, the Bureau does not provide an argument as to how the disclosure of property tax extensions source code would lead to either private gain or public loss. The only purpose I can see for using this source code is forecasting the property tax extension under different tax assessment scenarios. This purpose does not seem to have a private benefit and could bring much public gain.
Second, the Bureau cites 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(i). Section 7(1)(o), which exempts technical material if the disclosure "would jeopardize the security of the system or its data or the security of materials exempt under this Section."
However the, Bureau does not explain how the providing the source code used to calculate the tax extension could compromise the security. It is unlikely that the modules directly involved in the tax extension could contain information that would compromise the security.