REVISED FEBRUARY 15, 2018
This Policy applies to all FOIA requests directed to the Office of the Governor, which includes the Governor; the Governor’s chief of staff, counsel, director of policy, and Cabinet Secretaries; the Assistant to the Governor for Intergovernmental Affairs; and those individuals to whom the Governor has delegated his authority pursuant to Virginia Code § 2.2-104 (Office).
Rights and Responsibilities under the Act
The Act, § 2.2-3700, et. seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media with circulation in the Commonwealth, access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.
A public record is any writing or recording – regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format – that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may be withheld only if a specific, statutory exclusion applies.
The purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by the public of governmental activities. FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exclusion allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.
Citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media with circulation in the Commonwealth may:
If the Office has questions about a request, the Office will attempt to work with the person making the request to understand what information is being sought. Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but the Office may need clarification regarding the request.
The Office must respond to a request within five (5) working days of receiving it. “Day One” is considered the day after the request is received. The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays. If a request is receive after 5pm EST, the request will be considered received the following working day.
The reason for the request for public records is not required. The Office will not ask why the records are being requested. FOIA does, however, permits the Office to ask the requester’s name and legal address.
FOIA requires that the Office make one of the following responses to a request within the five-day time period:
If the request is for a very large number of public records and the Office cannot provide the records within twelve (12) days without disrupting other organizational responsibilities, the Office may petition the court for additional time to respond to the request. FOIA, however, requires that the Office make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with the requester concerning the scope of the request or the production before petitioning the court.
The Act permits any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. The Office commonly withholds records subject to the following exclusions (although other exclusions under the Act or the Code of Virginia may also protect a public record from disclosure):
To request public records from the Office of the Governor, or for more information about requesting records, please contact Deputy Counsel Jessica Killeen. She may be contacted:
FOIA@governor.virginia.gov with the phrase “FOIA Request” included in the subject line of the email.
Jessica Killeen, Esq.Deputy CounselOffice of the GovernorPatrick Henry Building1111 East Broad StreetRichmond, Virginia 23219
In addition, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to assist with questions about FOIA. The Council may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (804) 225-3056 or [toll free] 1-866-448-4100.