Requesting Public Records (FOIA)
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located §2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.
FOIA's purpose purpose is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.
What records are available to the public?
Existing public records prepared by or in the possession of a public body or its officers/employees in the ordinary transaction of public business. FOIA does not require that the Town create records that do not already exist or answer general questions.
is any writing or recording-- regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format-- that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees, or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.
Examples of some records which would be withheld by a public body include: records subject to attorney/client privilege; vendor proprietary information; personnel records; and records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, among others.
If you are unsure whether the Town has the record(s) you seek, please contact Public Relations Officer Becky Wilburn at
or by phone at (540) 381-6128, ext. 148.
What are my rights under FOIA?
You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of public records, or both.
You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.
If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.
What are the Town's responsibilities in responding to my request?
The Town must respond to your request within five working days of receiving it. "Day One" is considered the first working day after your request is received. The five day period does not include weekends or holidays. If it is not practically possible to respond to your request within five working days, you will be promptly notified and the Town will have an additional seven working days to complete the request.
The reason behind your request for public records from the Town is irrelevant and you do not have to state why you want the records before we respond to your request. FOIA does, however, allow the Town to ask you to provide your name and legal address.
FOIA requires that the Town make one of the following responses to your request in writing within the five day time period:
We provide you with the records you have requested in their entirety.
We withhold all of the records that you have requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption(s). The response must identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold the records.
We provide some of the records that you have requested, but withhold other records. We cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption. In that instance, we may redact the portion of the record that may be withheld and must provide you with the remainder of the record. We must provide a response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld.
We inform you that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist (i.e. we do not have the records that you requested). However, if we know that another public body has the records, we must include contact information for the other public body in our response to you.
If it is practically impossible for the Town to respond to your request within the five day period, we must state this and explain the conditions that make the response impossible. This will allow us seven additional working days to respond to your request, giving us a total of 12 working days to respond to your request.
If you make a request for a large number of records and we feel that we cannot provide the records to you within 12 working days without disrupting our other organizational responsibilities, the Town may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request. However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production for the records before we go to court to ask for more time.
How do I make a request for a public record?
You may request records by U.S. Mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or over the phone. FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA. Please note: From a practical perspective, it may be beneficial to create a written record of your request to provide a clear statement of the records you are requesting, as well as to avoid any misunderstanding over a verbal request.
Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity." In other words, your request is not limited by the volume or number of records that you request; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can sufficiently identify and locate the records you are seeking. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of the Town, nor does it require the Town to create a record that doesn't exist.
If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff's efforts to clarify the type of record(s) that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a request. Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.
By Mail: Attn: Public Relations Officer, 100 E. Main St., Christiansburg, VA 24073
In Person: Christiansburg Town Hall, 100 E Main St.
What information do I need to provide when making a request?
The Town simply asks that you provide your name and address, as well as any supplemental information that would help in contacting you regarding the request, such as an e-mail address. Your request must also be reasonably specific so that the record(s) you are seeking can be located and identified.
How will I receive the records request?
You may request records in any format used by the Town, such as paper, e-mail, or electronic means. The Town can provide the records requested to you by mail, e-mail, or you can arrange to personally retrieve copies of the records.
Will I have to pay for the records?
The Town may charge for any requested records, so long as the charge does not exceed the actual cost of responding to your request. You may request that the Town estimate the cost for supplying the record in advance. 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. Please note: If you have an unpaid balance for a previous request that is older than 30 days, the Town will require you to pay the past-due bill before processing any subsequent requests.
Can I be denied a request?
Records requests can be denied based upon the law, which exempts the disclosure of certain records to the public. Examples of some records which would be withheld by a public body include: records subject to attorney/client privilege (§2.2-3705.1 ), vendor proprietary information (§2.2-3705.1), personnel records (§2.2-370.1 ), and records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract (§2.2-3705.1).