The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council, a state agency, is an office with the expertise to help resolve disputes over Freedom of Information issues. The FOIA Council answers questions from private citizens, state and local public officials, and the media about access to public records and meetings. Under Virginia law, the presumption is that all documents in the possession of public officials and all meetings of state and local public bodies are open to citizens of the Commonwealth. Of course, there are exceptions and these exceptions can lead to good faith disagreements between citizens or media and public officials.
By issuing advisory opinions, whether oral or written, the FOIA Council hopes to resolve disputes by clarifying what the law requires and to guide future practices. The FOIA Council has no authority to mediate disagreements, but may be called upon as a resource to offer solutions to resolve FOIA disputes. As part of its statutory duties set forth at § 30-179 of the Code of Virginia, the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is charged with providing opinions about the application and interpretation of Virginia's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), conducting FOIA training seminars, and publishing educational materials. Click on the links below to see more detail about the services that the FOIA Council provides.