Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located in Section 2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.

What a Public Record Is

All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies. A public record is any writing or recording 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, regardless of whether it is:

  • An audio or video recording
  • An electronic file
  • Paper record
  • Any other format


The policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.

Commonly Used Exemptions

The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. The Treasurer’s Office commonly withholds records subject to the following exemptions:

  • Personnel records (Section 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)
  • Records subject to attorney-client privilege (Section 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work product (Section 2.2-3705.1 (3))
  • Vendor proprietary information (Section 2.2-3705.1 (6))
  • Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (Section 2.2-3705.1 (12))
  • No requirement to create records that do not exist (Section 2.2-3700))
  • Certain records not yet made public (Section 58.1-3921-Section 58.1-3924)
  • Certain records confidential tax information (Section 58.1-3)