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2. You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.
3. If you believe that your Freedom of Information Act rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.
If we estimate that it will cost more than $200 to respond to your request, we may require you to pay a deposit, not to exceed the amount of the estimate, before proceeding with your request. The five days that we have to respond to your request does not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.
You may request that we estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records that you have requested. This will allow you to know about any costs upfront, or give you the opportunity to modify your request in an attempt to lower the estimated costs.
If you owe us money from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, the City may require payment of the past-due bill before it will respond to your new FOIA request.
FOIA requires that the City make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:
1. We provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.
2. We withhold all of the records that you have requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption. If all of the records are being withheld, we must send you a response in writing. That writing 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.
3. 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 you with a written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld.
4. We inform you in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist (we do not have the records you want). However, if we know that another public body has the requested records, we must include contact information for the other public body in our response to you.
5. If it is practically impossible for the City to respond to your request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining 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.
6. If you make a request for a very 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, we 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 or the records before we go to court to ask for more time.
A public record 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.
The policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA 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.
The easiest and most efficient way to request public records is through the City of Norfolk online FOIA Records Center. You may request, track and receive your records online. The FOIA Records Center provides handy FAQs on the request process along with links to sources of readily available City of Norfolk data that can be quickly accessed without waiting for a records request.
You may also request records by U.S. Mail, fax, email, 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 the Freedom of Information Act. From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request. It also gives us a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request. However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect not to put it in writing.
Agencies are under no obligation to extend benefits of FOIA to requests to individuals and media bodies residing outside of Virginia.
Personnel records (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1) of the Code of Virginia)
Records subject to attorney-client privilege (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2)) or attorney work product (§ 2.2-3705.1 (3))
Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded (§ 2.2-3705.1 (12))