Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
, Virginia residents have the right to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both. Residents have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance. Document: Your FOIA Rights
How to Make a FOIA Request
You may request records by completing a FOIA request form
or by contacting the City Clerk (see email and address below). To request a printed copy of the form, please call 703-248-5014 (TTY 711). The form is not required, but it is preferred.
You may make your FOIA request in several ways:
In accordance with the act, the timing for response begins the day after receipt of the request, allowing for 5 business days to complete the search. In the event the search will require more time, the act provides for an additional 7 days.
Pursuant to Virginia Code Â§2.2-3704 (H) and the city's established practices, the cost of making copies is $0.15 per black and white copy and $0.25 per color copy; and the hourly rate for staff to search for records and to make copies is $25 per hour. Copies made by an outside vendor, such as Staples and FedEx/Kinkos, are likely to cost more. Oversized copies may cost $3.50 per page, particularly if they are in color.
Additionally, if the cost of producing records is likely to exceed $200, you will be requested to make a deposit not to exceed the amount of the advance determination. The deposit shall be credited toward the final cost of supplying the requested records.
In addition to charges for staff time and for copying, charges may be incurred for retrieving records from off-site storage. If electronic records are no longer available, there may be an additional charge for retrieving them through the city's IT contractor, if you still desire them.
Types of Records Available
The following is a general description of the types of records held by the City:
- Personnel records concerning employees and officials of the City
- Records of contracts which the City has entered into
- City Council and Board and Commission Records
- Development Services Records
- Public Works Records
- Treasurer Records
- Commissioner of Revenue Records
- Voter Registrar Records
- Police and Sheriff Records
- Other general City records
Commonly Used Exemptions
The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. The City commonly withholds records subject to the following exemptions:
- Personnel records (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)
- Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work product (§ 2.2-3705.1 (3))
- Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))
- Proprietary economic development and retention records (§ 2.2-3705.6 (3))
- Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1 (12))
- Records recorded in or compiled exclusively for use in lawfully held closed meetings (§ 2.2-3711)
- Public safety records including plans to respond to terrorist activity (§ 2.2-3705.2 (4)) and plans for security of facilities (§ 2.2-3705.2 (6)).
Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council
The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council
is available to answer any general questions you may have about FOIA. The council offers a comment form
on their website. The council may be contacted by email
or by phone at 804-698-1810 or 1-866-448-4100.