FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Local Elected Officials Training Webinars
views its training duty as its most important mission and
welcomes every opportunity to provide FOIA training programs.
In fulfilling its statutory mission to conduct educational
programs about FOIA, the FOIA Council provides several different
types of training, all free of charge, as detailed below.
training by staff
staff provides training upon request to interested groups,
such as the staff of state and local agencies, members of
local governing bodies, media organizations, citizen organizations,
and any other group that wishes to learn more about FOIA.
Organizations requesting training are strongly encouraged,
but not required, to consolidate training by including other
like organizations within a single or neighboring jurisdiction(s)
wherever possible. This training usually is available from
April through November. Because the FOIA Council is a legislative
agency, training generally is not available while the General
Assembly is in session. Please note that training by Council
staff does satisfy the FOIA training requirements for FOIA
officers and local elected officials (see below). Additionally,
please note that the required annual FOIA training may also
be provided by legal counsel for the public body (i.e. your
local government or agency attorney) as well as the FOIA Council.
from the FOIA Council will travel to the location of the group
requesting training or will make arrangements to present the
live training using audio/video technology. The training can
be presented for credit, in which case it must follow the
stated agenda and time limits as agreed with the accrediting
organization (see below), or it can be tailored to meet the
needs of the particular group. Tailored presentations can
range from 30 minutes to several hours, and can present a
general overview of FOIA or focus specifically on particular
exemptions or portions of FOIA frequently used by that group
or organization. Accredited programs include "Access
to Public Records" and "Access to Public Meetings,"
each of which is preapproved by the Virginia State Bar for
1.5 hours of continuing legal education credit for licensed
attorneys, and "Criminal and other Law-Enforcement Records
and FOIA" which is preapproved for 2.0 hours of in-service
credit for law-enforcement from the Department of Criminal
Justice Services. Other organizations including the Virginia
Municipal Clerks Association and the Virginia School Board
Association have also given credit for attending training
by the FOIA Council, although such training is not separately
are interested in scheduling a live FOIA training presentation,
please call the FOIA Council at (804) 698-1810 [Richmond area]
or 1-866-448-4100 [toll free]. We suggest that you contact
us as soon as you have potential dates in mind for training
so as to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Council provides two different online training courses, one
designed for FOIA officers and the other designed for local
elected officials, as alternatives to live training in order
to satisfy the statutory training requirements (see below).
Officers - § 2.2-3704.2
for FOIA officers is hosted on the Commonwealth of Virginia
Learning Center (COVLC). If you have not done so already,
you will need to register with COVLC to take the course. For
more information about registering with COVLC, please click
If you are already registered, please clickhere
to go directly to the COVLC home page.
logging in to COVLC, choose "FOIA-Freedom of Information
Act" from the list of courses on the right-hand side
of the page title "Browse Categories." The course
consists of a tutorial that should take less than an hour,
followed by a 15 question quiz. You must answer 12 questions
correctly (80%) to pass the quiz. After completing the tutorial
and passing the quiz, you will have the option to print a
certificate showing that you completed the online training.
Please note that you do not need to send us copies of your
certificate, but you should keep it for your records to document
that you completed the required training.
officers are also required to provide their names and contact
information to the FOIA Council so that we can maintain a
list of FOIA officers available to the public. Such information
must be submitted by July 1 of the year the FOIA officer is
initially trained, and then updated if and when it changes.
(Note: The requirement used to be to submit the information
each year by July 1, but as of July 1, 2020, it has been amended
so the information only needs to be submitted once initially
and updated if there are changes.)
are two ways to submit your name and contact information:
to use the online version of the form. It requires a free
registration, but once done, it will automatically add your
information to the FOIA officers list. Please use this form
if this is the first time someone is registering as a FOIA
officer for the public body.
hereto download a Microsoft Word version of the same
form that you may send to us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or print and send by regular mail, if you prefer. Please use
this form if someone else is already registered as FOIA officer
for the public body, so that IT staff can remove outdated
information from the list while updating with the new information.
elected officials - § 2.2-3704.3
As of July 1, 2020, all local elected officials
and executive directors and members of each industrial development
authority and economic development authority are required
to receive FOIA training "within two months after assuming
the local elected office and thereafter at least once during
each consecutive period of two calendar years commencing with
the date on which he last completed a training session."
To facilitate this training, we have developed a FOIA training
course specifically for local elected officials that should
take less than an hour to complete. Note that it covers a
broader range of material than the FOIA officers course by
including information on public records, public meetings,
remedies and penalties, and additional resources for further
questions. Additionally, there is no quiz in this version
of the online training. There is no requirement for a training
certificate, but the law requires that the clerk of a governing
body or school board keep records of such training for five
years, so please be sure to let your clerk know when you have
taken a training course. Note that there is no requirement
to send records of this training to the FOIA Council, and
unlike FOIA officers, we do not maintain a list of elected
officials who have completed FOIA training.
issue:Unfortunately, some users have had buffering
issues with the local elected officials course, while the
training works for others without any problems. Most users
who have encountered issues have been able to complete the
training after clearing their browser cache and history, so
that is the recommend first step if you have any problems.
The training has worked on multiple browsers, but IT staff
has indicated that Google Chrome may work better than other
browsers, so trying different browsers is another option.
If clearing the cache and history does not work, one Chrome
user reported that she was able to take the course after she
temporarily disabled browser extensions. Because of the technical
issues, there are different ways to take the local elected
officials online training:
version (this version requires the user to click through each
page of the training and allows the user to generate a certificate
at the end of the course, but unfortunately appears to have
the most buffering issues): HERE
video versions (these versions are an MP4 video with the same
course content as the click-through version; users may either
play the video directly from our site, or may download it
as a .zip file and play it from their own computers; note
that these versions do not generate a certificate but they
do still satisfy the requirement to take FOIA training): HERE
for attorneys who wish to provide training for their clients,
please note that a PowerPoint version is available here
as a resource to use in conjunction with live training (please
note that the PowerPoint version does not satisfy the training
requirement by itself, it is only meant to be used in conjunction
with live training).