FOIA Opinions by Topic
Opinions by topic: (RECORDS) Response To Request
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- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-11 (4/25/2012): Summarizes the requirements for making and responding to a FOIA request. Clear communications between the parties are essential. Public bodies are reminded to provide one of the five responses required by statute.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-10 (11/19/2010): For the purpose of the definition of public records, the meaning of in the transaction of public business must be examined on a case by case basis. FOIA does not mandate how to perform a search for records, but any search that is conducted must be carried out in good faith.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-09 (3/25/2009): The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia is an agency of the Commonwealth supported wholly or principally by public funds; opinion also address response time, and failure to respond properly.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-08 (6/18/2008): Failure to respond to a request for records is deemed a denial of the request and a violation of FOIA. Clear communications are essential to FOIA transactions.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-08 (5/5/2008): FOIA does not require a public body to provide records, or portions thereof, that are not responsive to a request. Implementing a universal security policy requiring all visitors to present identification before entering a public building does not inherently exclude the public from attending public meetings which may be held therein.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-08 (3/7/2008): Weekends and legal holidays are not counted as working days when computing the five working day time limit for a response to a request for public records. A public body must inform a requester in writing when it does not have the records the requester seeks. Clear communications are essential to the operation of FOIA.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-08 (2/21/2008): Records concerning a public body's employment policies are open to disclosure. If a public body is unsure of the scope of a request, it should contact the requester to clarify the matter. A failure to respond to a records request is deemed a denial of the request and a violation of FOIA.
- Fenter v. Norfolk Airport Authority (Virginia Supreme Court) (9/14/2007): Norfolk Airport Authority's response that it had forwarded a citizen's FOIA request to the Transportation Security Administration did not meet the standards of any of Virginia FOIA's required responses.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-06 (5/25/2006): A request for statutes and regulations granting legal authority to a public body is not a request for public records as contemplated by FOIA. FOIA expressly provides the procedure to follow if a public body needs additional time to respond to a request. A response that does not meet the procedural requirements of FOIA is not a proper response.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-05 (1/10/2006): At present, there is no requirement for public body to tell records requester that the records asked for do not exist. If original records are legible, the copies should be, too. Publilc body cannot require requester to inspect records rather than copy them. Public body not required to recreate lost records or records no longer in its possession.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-05 (1/10/2006): If a public body elects to abstract or summarize records, it can only charge for such a newly created record after a prior agreement with the requester.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-16-04 (7/23/2004): It appears that the intent of the law would indicate that if records do not exist, this should be stated in writing to the requester. once a deposit is requested from the public body, a requester does not have the right to demand that certain records that are believed to be easily accessible be provided immediately, before the deposit is paid, while still indicating that he wants a response to the entire request. Burden on requester to clearly indicate he is attempting to narrow a previous request, in lieu of that request. The practical perspective of dealing with the application of FOIA on a daily basis has taught [this office] that clear and concise communication between a requester and a government official -- relying on the requirements set forth in the law and not on editorial comment -- is often the best way to successfully resolve any concerns about a FOIA request.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-04 (5/5/2004): When choosing to withhold records from disclosure, the specific statutory authority must be cited; reference to a legislative bill is not appropriate. The school safety audit exemption does not apply to the entire audit, only the portions revealing specific security vulnerabilities.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-12-03 (5/14/2003): City of Newport News' failure to provide one of the four enumerated responses to a FOIA request is a violation of the act; an action for mandamus or injunction may be pursued.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-47-01 (11/13/2001): A school district's two-business-day advance notice for record requests comports with the general FOIA requirement that requests for information must be answered within five working days.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-34-01 (7/24/2001): Neither a volunteer fire company nor a committee created to handle the company's finances are public bodies; the minutes taken by a non-public body nonetheless become public records when they are provided to a public body (such as a city council); a non-public body's financial records in the possession of a local treasurer are not public records; a public record cannot be withheld simply because the public body for whom the record is prepared has not yet received it; there is no FOIA requirement that a request for records be made in writing.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-21-01 (3/27/2001): Regarding duty to explain how the actual cost of searching for records was calculated; consecutive requests must be treated separately; public body may require a deposit if cost of providing records would exceed $200.
- FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-11-00 (12/12/2000): public body not required to merge two separate databases to create a record containing the information sought by a requester; requester can ask for both databases and manipulate the raw data himself.
- Lawrence v. Jenkins (11/5/1999): Not an FOIA violation when a public official chooses to exercise an exemption, redacted exempt information, but failed to timely cite the applicable Code section for the exemption.
- Attorney General's Opinion 1989 #013 (5/4/1989): Public body not required to compile a record, but must notify the requester within the required time.
- Attorney General's Opinion 1981-82 #440 (6/25/1982): Though using the entire period to release a readily available record is not a technical violation of FOIA, it probably violates the spirit of the law where release would not have any way hampered the orderly administration of government.
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