FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
The Honorable Allen
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 a phone
conversation with a member of your staff on July 3, 2001.
Dear Delegate Louderback:
You have asked a
question concerning public records and the Virginia Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA). Specifically, you ask whether it
is illegal for a public official to reveal the names of individuals
who have made previously FOIA requests to that public official.
You ask whether such disclosure is prohibited by either state
or federal law.
FOIA defines public
records at § 2.1-341 of the Code of Virginia as all writings
and recordings ... regardless of physical form or characteristics,
prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body
or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of
public business.1 Subsection A of § 2.1-342
requires that [e]xcept as otherwise specifically provided
by law, all public records shall be open to inspection and
copying by any citizens of the Commonwealth.2
Therefore, unless a specific statutory exemption can be found
in the Code, all public records must be disclosed upon request
pursuant to FOIA. Upon review of the Code, no exemption exists
for records of previous FOIA requests. To the extent that
a public body has any records containing the names of individuals
who have made FOIA requests, they would be available to the
You also ask about
the application of federal law to this question. The Virginia
Freedom of Information Advisory Council only has the authority
to issue opinions relating to the interpretation of the state
FOIA, and thus cannot offer an interpretation as to the application
of federal law. However, having contacted the Office of Information
and Privacy at the United States Department of Justice, which
administers the application of the federal Freedom of Information
Act, it appears there is nothing in federal law prohibiting
or exempting the disclosure of the names of individuals who
have previously made FOIA requests to a public agency. If
you have further questions about the application of federal
law to this question, I would suggest that you contact the
Office of Information and Privacy. The office can be reached
by phone at (202) 514-3642.
Thank you for contacting
this office. I hope that I have been of assistance.
Maria J.K. Everett
Code Ann. § 2.2-3701 (Michie 2001) (effective Oct. 1, 2001).
2Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3704(A) (Michie 2001) (effective
Oct. 1, 2001).