December 12, 2000
Mr. Paul Johnson
The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council
is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff
advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented
in your e-mail of November 21, 2000.
Dear Mr. Johnson:
You asked whether you may obtain access to the methodology
used to place state jobs within the Commonwealth's new compensation
plan. You indicate that you specifically requested information
concerning the placement of your current position on the compensation
scale, and were told that such information was not available
to either the public or individual employees.
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as expressed
in § 2.1-342 of the Code of Virginia, requires mandatory disclosure
of public records unless an exemption is granted pursuant
to § 2.1-432.01 or disclosure is otherwise prohibited by law.
A review of FOIA reveals that the information you have requested
is not subject to any applicable exemptions. In addition,
FOIA affirmatively provides access to records of position,
job classification and salary information of public officials
and employees of public bodies in clause (ii) of subsection
B of § 2.1-342.01. It appears that the record that you have
requested fits soundly within this provision. Thus, the law
dictates that FOIA should not be construed to deny public
access to this information. Furthermore, the document that
you have requested is directly related to your own position,
and even if the document contained identifiable personnel
information, you would still be allowed access to that data.
The FOIA exemption relating to personnel information, at subdivision
A. 4. of § 2.1-342.01, does not deny access to the person
who is the subject of the records.
The facts you set forth in your e-mail do not clearly indicate
how the public body responded to your initial request for
the records, aside from denying you access. Your verbal request
for the records, even if you did not specifically make reference
to FOIA, would invoke its requirements. Subsection B of §
2.1-342(B) of FOIA requires that if a public body withholds
records because they properly fall under an exemption, the
response must be in writing, identify with reasonable particularity
the subject matter of the withheld records, and cite the specific
Code section that authorizes the withholding. A public body
has five working days from receipt of the request to provide
access or this type of response.
Thank you for contacting this office. I hope that I have
been of assistance.
Maria J.K. Everett