Fees

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-04

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, an interstate compact between Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, is subject to FOIA because the compact's terms says that Virginia law applies in cases raised under the compact. Public body may recoup costs of providing records. Records detailing legal advice given to public body may be withheld.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-21-03

If database is maintained in digital form, the records custodian cannot limit dissemination of the database to paper format only. Circuit courts cannot charge 50 cents per page for records subject to FOIA when those records are provided electronically; clerk could charge for search time and cost of computer disks.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-20-03

When providing records that have already been assembled for easy public access, the government is not required to charge requesters anything for those records, much less the amount it cost to first compile the records for an earlier requester. Government does not have an obligation to lend out a CD of public records for requesters to make copies on their own, but it is not prohibited, and it facilitates FOIA's policy of access.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-03

A public body cannot charge a requester for the cost of compiling a requested record that had already been compiled for an earlier requester.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-14-02

Though a public body may require a requester to pay a deposit for a request likely to cost over $200 to fulfill, the public body is also required to refund the requester the difference of any overestimate. Whether it is reasonable for a public body to maintain records in a manner that makes it hard to identify them or contracts for their maintenance with an expensive third party is a matter for the courts to decide.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-02

a list of delinquent real property taxpayers with parcel ID, legal description, and owner's name with mailing address is a public record under FOIA. If government maintains a record on a computer disk, a requester can agree to receive a requested record in that form and pay a reasonable cost for it, not to exceed the actual cost. Government has five days to make an intitial response to a FOIA request. FOI Advisory Council opinions are advisory only.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-02

A public body cannot include employee fringe benefits -- such as insurance, retirement and vacation benefits -- when assessing the fee charged for searching, retrieving and supplying records to a requester.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-49-01

A record custodian can, in his/her discretion, create a record where none exits, but he/she cannot charge the requester for the new document without prior notification. Nothing prevents and nothing requires one governmental entity to forward the records responsive to a requester's request to another governmental entity, however, the first entity cannot charge the requester for that action. A governmental entity may not charge a FOIA requester for the time it takes a clerk to calculate how much the requester will be charged. Whether a charge is reasonable is a question for the courts.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-39-01

A public body cannot charge a request fee unless it has determined in advance that the fee accurately reflects the cost to search and provide a requested record.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-25-01

Government entity may charge the actual cost, including an hourly rate for the time reasonably necessary, to fulfill an FOIA request.

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