Presentation on theme: "VIRGINIA FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT Maria J.K. Everett, Executive Director VA Freedom of Information Advisory Council VA Freedom of Information Advisory."— Presentation transcript:
VIRGINIA FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT Maria J.K. Everett, Executive Director VA Freedom of Information Advisory Council VA Freedom of Information Advisory Council
VA Freedom of Information Advisory Council, a state agency Issues advisory opinions –written, oral, Provides FOIA training –Annual FOIA Roadshow –Specialized training upon request Publishes educational material
PURPOSE Single Body of Law Every day application of “Government of, by and for the People” Predictable Behavior by Government
FOIA IS A BALANCE RIGHT OF ACCESS Versus NEED OF GOVERNMENT TO FUNCTION
–Regardless of physical form or characteristic; –However stored; –Owned or prepared by or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees, or agents in the transaction of public business. PUBLIC RECORDS
Debunking FOIA Myths RECORDS not explanationsRECORDS not explanations Inspect or CopyInspect or Copy Not freeNot free FOIA doesn’t prohibit releaseFOIA doesn’t prohibit release Informal vs. formal requestsInformal vs. formal requests
FOIA REQUESTS DON’T: HAVE TO BE IN WRITING HAVE TO SAY “FOIA”
WHO HAS FOIA RIGHTS VIRGINIA CITIZENSVIRGINIA CITIZENS MEDIAMEDIA
FOIA REQUIRES 5WORKING DAYS TO PRODUCE RECORDS -OR- TO SAY “NO”
RESPONSES YES NEED MORE TIME NO, in part - OR- NO, no records 5 DAYS 5 DAYS5 DAYS 5 DAYS 5 DAYS 5 DAYS5 DAYS5 DAYS
ACTUAL COSTS ONLY Hourly rateHourly rate NO fringe benefitsNO fringe benefits Ministerial actMinisterial act Reasonable, too.Reasonable, too.
ENFORCEMENT FOIA Suit by aggrieved party FOIA Suit by aggrieved party Burden of proof on GovernmentBurden of proof on Government Failure to follow FOIA deemed violation. Failure to follow FOIA deemed violation.
PENALTIES Pay legal bills of petitioner Pay legal bills of petitioner Mandamus or InjunctionMandamus or Injunction BAD PRESSBAD PRESS
PENALTIES “Knowing” and “Willful” Violations Up to $1,000 for 1 st violation.Up to $1,000 for 1 st violation. Up to $2,500 for any subsequent violation.Up to $2,500 for any subsequent violation. Paid by violator, not the government!Paid by violator, not the government!
Advisory Opinions VA Freedom of Information Advisory CouncilVA Freedom of Information Advisory Council Attorney GeneralAttorney General
Remember CallCall FOIA Council with ANY questions. ThereThere are NO stupid FOIA questions. Set “institutional culture” for compliance with FOIA. FOIA says —How and When to ACT; Not how to feel. It is NOT our individual sense of fairness, but the collective sense expressed in the law.