VIRGINIA FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. FINANCIAL DATA.
DEFINITIONS. FINANCIAL DATA COLLECTED FROM RETAIL ESTABLISHMENT BY
STATE INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING FOR PURPOSE OF BUSINESS
RESEARCH OR PUBLICATION NOT EXEMPT FROM ACT
January 27, 1984
The Honorable George W. Grayson
Member, House of Delegates
This is in response to your recent request for my opinion as to
whether financial data collected from retail establishments by a
state institution of higher learning, for the purpose of business
research or publication in the form of a business index or a
business report would be exempt from the provisions of the Virginia
Freedom of Information Act, 2.1-340 through 2.1-346.1 of the Code
of Virginia (the "Act"). You referred to gross sales as an example
of the data collected.
Section 2.1-341 defines "official records" for purposes of the
Act as: "all written or printed books, papers, letters,
documents...reports or other material, regardless of physical form
or characteristics, prepared, owned, or in the possession of a
public body or any employee or officer of a public entity in the
transaction of public business."
If the financial data which a state institution of higher
learning would be collecting from retail establishments is
collected and held in the possession of the institution in the
transaction of public business, it would be considered "official
records" for purposes of the Act. Section 2.1-342 provides that all
official records shall be open to public inspection, unless
otherwise specifically provided by law. Therefore, unless an
exception is provided by law, the financial data here in question
is subject to the disclosure provision of 2.1-342.
Section 2.1-342(b)(i6) exempts "data, records or information of
a proprietary nature, other than financial or administrative,
produced or collected by or for faculty or staff of state
institutions of higher learning" (emphasis added) in certain
instances. I am not certain that gross sales data are "of a
proprietary nature." Even if they are so categorized, the data
would not fall within the exemption if they are "financial" in
Based upon your description of the data as "financial," I must
conclude that the data would not be exempt from the disclosure
provisions of the Act.