Virginia Freedom of Information Act

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located in § 2.2-3700 et. seq. of the Code of Virginia, permits citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to the public records of public bodies, public officials and public employees, subject to the statutory exemptions of FOIA.

A public record is any writing or recording - regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording or any other format - that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees, or agents in the transaction of public business.  Va. Code § 2.2-3701.  All public records are presumed to be open and may be withheld only if a statutory exemption applies.

The purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities.  FOIA requires the law to be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption from public access must be interpreted narrowly.