As part of our commitment to open and accountable government, the City of Alexandria wants you to understand how we handle requests for public records under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
What Records Are Available to the Public?
Existing records prepared by or in the possession of a public body or its officers or employees in the ordinary transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open and are withheld only if a specific exemption applies. You will be notified if any requested records are being withheld and the reason for the withholding of any records, including the appropriate authority (law or code section) which permits the City to withhold such records. Although the City strives to assist you as much as possible, FOIA does not require that the City create records that do not already exist or answer general questions.
How Do I Request a Public Record?
You may request a record by any means, although it is helpful to put your request in writing.
- You may submit your request online, or check the status of a request you have submitted online.
- When submitting your request by mail, please direct it to:
- Office of the City Attorney
301 King Street, Suite 1300
P. O. Box 178
Alexandria, Virginia 22313
- Office of the City Attorney
- To make a request via telephone, please call 703.746.3750.
- To submit a request via facsimile, send your request to 703.838.4810.
- To make a request by email: FOIArequests@alexandriava.gov
What Information Do I Need to Provide in Order to Make a Public Records Request?
The City asks that the name and address of the requestor be provided so that it can be determined to whom to send the information, but also so that the City can determine whether the person requesting the information is entitled to request records under the law. Your request must also be reasonably specific so that the records you are seeking can be identified and located.
When Can I Expect My Request to be Processed?
Within five days after receiving your request (not including weekends or City holidays). If it is not practically possible to respond to your request within five working days, you will be promptly notified and the City will have an additional seven working days.
How Will I Receive the Records I Request?
You may request records in any format used by the City, such as paper, e-mail or electronic means. The City can provide the records requested to you by mail or electronic mail, or you can arrange to personally retrieve copies of the records.
Will I Have to Pay for the Records?
The City may charge for any requested records. The City is permitted to charge only for the actual costs of responding to your request. You may request that the City tell you in advance what the anticipated costs will be for supplying the records. If the estimated costs exceed $200, you may be required to pay a deposit (not to exceed the amount of the estimate) before processing your request. Additionally, if you owe the City money from a previous request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, the City will require you to pay the past-due bill before processing any subsequent records requests.
When Can a Request Be Denied?
Records requests can be denied based upon the law which exempts the disclosure of records to the public. Examples of some records which would be withheld by a public body: records subject to attorney/client privilege; vendor proprietary information; personnel records; and records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract.
For More Information
- The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council is a state agency that can answer any questions you may have about FOIA. The Council may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or toll-free by phone at 1-866-448-4100.
- The text of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act is available online, or we can provide you with a copy upon request.
- The Local Government Officials' Guide to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act is a 36-page printed booklet with more than 100 questions and answers about FOIA. We have purchased a limited supply and can provide you with one free copy for personal use. Additional copies may be ordered from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.