Sunrise over V.A. Capitol.

August 15, 2000, Richmond

The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council, created by the 2000 Session of the General Assembly as an advisory council in the legislative branch to encourage and facilitate compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, held its first meeting. The council is composed of twelve members.

As directed by statute, the council is tasked with furnishing, upon request, advisory opinions regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to any person or agency of state or local government; conducting training seminars and educational programs for the members and staff of public bodies and other interested persons on the requirements of FOIA; and publishing educational materials on the provisions of FOIA. The council is also required to file a formal, annual report on its activities and findings regarding FOIA, including recommendations for changes in the law, to the Governor and the General Assembly. By statute, the council will cease to exist on July 1, 2002, unless otherwise extended by the General Assembly.


At its organizational meeting, the council elected Delegate Chip Woodrum as chairman and Senator Edd Houck as vice-chairman. The council agreed that the day-to-day operations of the council would be vested in its executive director. The council also discussed (i) conducting training seminars at least annually, (ii) the creation and maintenance of a council website to make the work of the council and information related to FOIA generally more accessible to anyone interested in public access issues; and (iii) the publication of educational materials to assist state and local government officials, the media, and citizens in complying with FOIA. A direct line, along with a toll free number, will be established at the Division of Legislative Services to handle FOIA inquiries. The website address for the council is

The next two meetings of the council have been set for Wednesday, September 20, 2000, and Wednesday, November 11, 2000. Both meetings will be held at 10:00 a.m. in House Room D of the General Assembly Building in Richmond.


FOIA training seminars have already been scheduled by the council for the week of October 23rd to 27th at the following locations statewide: Portsmouth Community College, the General Assembly Building in Richmond, Charlottesville Community College, and Wytheville Community College. In addition to the FOIA Council, the Virginia Administrative Law Advisory Committee, the Virginia Association Chiefs of Police, the Virginia Association of Counties, the Virginia Bar Association, the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, the Virginia Community College System, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Virginia Local Government Attorneys Association, the Virginia Municipal League, the Office of the Attorney General, the Virginia Press Association, the Virginia Association of Broadcasters, the Virginia Sheriff's Association, and the Virginia School Boards' Association, will also sponsor and participate in the training seminars.

The Honorable Clifton A. Woodrum, Chairman
Staff contact: Maria J.K. Everett