Attorney General's Opinion 1982-83 #708



March 7, 1983

The Honorable Shirley F. Cooper
Member, House of Delegates

82-83 708

This is in reply to your recent letter requesting an Opinion regarding the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, §§2.1-340 through 2.1-346.1 of the Code of Virginia (the "Act"). The letters accompanying your request state that the College of William and Mary has recently named a new dean to the School of Business Administration who will take office on July 1, 1983. You have presented two questions:

1. Is the new dean's salary public information before he takes office at the college since an employment contract has been reached?

2. Must the college respond to a request for such information within ten working days of the request?

Section 2.1-342(a) provides that all "official records" shall be open to inspection and copying, except as otherwise specifically provided by law. The contract of employment would be deemed to be an "official record" for the purposes of the Act.

Section 2.1-342(c) provides in part:

"Neither any provision of this chapter nor any provision of Chapter 26 (§2.1-377 et seq.) of this title shall be construed as denying public access to records of the position, job classification, official salary or rate of pay of...any public officer, official or employee at any level of state, local or regional government in this Commonwealth whatsoever. The provisions of this subsection, however shall not apply to records of the official salaries or rates of pay of public employees whose annual rate of pay is $10,000 or less.

The foregoing provision has been interpreted by this Office to require disclosure of public officials' and employees' salaries and positions exceeding $10,000. See 1980-1981 Report of the Attorney General at 394. The General Assembly has not taken any action to change that Opinion. Accordingly, I am of the opinion that the signed contract is an "official record" and it must be made available for public inspection.

In answer to your second question, §2.1-342(a) sets forth the procedure to follow in responding to requests for inspection. It provides in part that "[a]ny public body covered under the provisions of this chapter shall make an initial response to citizens requesting records open to inspection within fourteen calendar days from the receipt of the request by the public body." It further provides that if a determination regarding availability of the records cannot be made within the fourteen-day period, the public body may so advise the requestor and it shall have ten additional days to make such determination. Accordingly, I am of the opinion that the college must respond to a request under the Act within fourteen calendar days after its receipt of such request.