Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests
How to Make a Request
Submit Your Request Online
To submit a request without using the Gov-QA portal, please submit your request one of these ways:
- Mail: FOIA Officer, County Attorney’s Office, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 403, Arlington, VA 22201
- Fax: 703-228-7106
- Email: FOIAofficer@arlingtonva.us
- In person: 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201
Review Standard County FOIA Charges
We will respond within five working days. If we cannot respond to a request within the five-day working period, you will be informed in writing with an explanation as to why. This allows the County an extension of seven additional working days to respond, providing a total of 12 working days.
If someone requests a very large number of records, and we determine it cannot be filled within 12 working days without disrupting other County organizational responsibilities, the County may petition the court for additional time. However, the County will contact you to attempt to reach an agreement with you concerning the production of the records before going to the court as required by FOIA.
Arlington County will do one of the following:
- Provide the records requested in their entirety.
- Withhold all of the records requested, because they are subject to a specific statutory exemption (see below for information regarding exemptions). If records are withheld, you will receive a written explanation identifying the volume and subject matter of the records withheld and the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows the exemption.
- Provide some of the records requested, but withhold others. An entire record will not be withheld if only a portion is subject to exemption. You will receive a written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows exemption of a portion of the records.
- Respond in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist. However, if another public body has the requested records, contact information will be included in the response.
Effective November 1, 2018, standard FOIA rates shall apply for all labor and materials. Rates include an hourly rate cap of $25.00/hr. which will be charged for the administration of record retrieval.
Upon request, the County will provide an estimate for fulfilling the FOIA request.
- If the County estimates that its costs are $200 or greater an estimate will be provided and a 50% deposit will be required to be paid by the requestor prior to the records being retrieved and disclosed.
- A Final Invoice for either the remainder (if deposit was paid) or total amount due will be provided to the request at the same time as the County's response.
The County’s charges for FOIA are consistent with the following guidelines:
- A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records and shall make all reasonable efforts to supply the requested records at the lowest possible cost.
- No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication.
- Prior to conducting a search for records, the public body shall notify the requester in writing that the public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for requested records and inquire of the requester whether he would like to request a cost estimate in advance of the supplying of the requested records set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.
- All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia. The five days allowed the County for a response does not include the time between provision of a requested estimate and approval of the estimate by the requester.
- If the estimated cost is more than $200, a deposit may be required (not to exceed the amount of the estimate), before the County proceeds with your request. The five days allowed the County for a response does not include the time between a request for a deposit and a response from the requester.
- Cost covers items such as staff time, copying or any other resources directly related to supplying the requested records. It does not include general overhead.
- If money is owed from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, Arlington County may require payment of the past-due bill before responding to a new FOIA request.
General Guidelines for Requests
- The County requires that the name and the address of the requester be provided so that it can be determined to whom to send the information, but also so that the County can be determine whether the person requesting the information is entitled to request records under the law.
- You must identify the records needed with reasonable specificity. This does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records requested; instead, it requires that a request be specific enough to identify and locate records.
- You must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA allows for inspection or copying of records; it does not require the County to answer general questions about the work of the department involved, nor does it require the department to create a record that does not exist.
- Records can be provided in the format in which they were created.
- For example, if you’re requesting records maintained in an Excel spreadsheet, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via email or on a computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records. Records created by hand can only be provided in print.
- You may be contacted if there are questions.
- Please be advised that FOIA requests are public records. Some FOIA requests are published by the County on the public archives available to the public on the County's website. In determining which requests to include, each request is evaluated individually for publication based upon the content of the request and records provided in response. The factors include whether the request or the responsive records include: i) information that the County is prohibited from publishing such social security numbers; ii) information that is exempt from disclosure under FOIA; iii) information that the County is prohibited from releasing to anyone other than particular requester; such as medical records of the requester, personnel information of the requester, educational records of the requester or their minor child, or certain plans of the single family home of the requester.
The Code of Virginia allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. Arlington County commonly withholds records subject to exemptions such as:
- Personnel records
- Records subject to attorney-client privilege
- Vendor proprietary information
- Health Records
- Tax Information
- Records relating to the negotiation and award of a contract, prior to a contract being awarded
- Security matters
- Single Family Residential Dwellings
Code of Virginia citations for the complete list of record exemptions:
- 2.2-3705.1: Exclusions of general application to public bodies
- 2.2-3705.2: Records relating to public safety
- 2.2-3705.3: Records relating to administrative investigations
- 2.2-3705.4: Educational records and certain records of educational institutions
- 2.2-3705.5: Health and social services records
- 2.2-3705.6: Proprietary records and trade secrets
- 2.2-3705.7: Records of specific public bodies and certain other limited exclusions
Who is the County's FOIA officer?
The County's FOIA officer is:
Office of the County Attorney
One Courthouse Plaza
2100 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 403
Arlington, VA 22201