Did you know that every document a public official or government employee generates while conducting public business — including electronic files in the case of email — is a public record and, therefore, must be made available to anyone who makes a reasonable request for it?
There are exceptions — when national security or an ongoing police investigation might be compromised, for example — and some personal information can be redacted. In the vast majority of cases, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act guarantees citizens and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials and public employees.
To that end, Loudoun County implemented Aug. 2 an improved online system for managing public records requests in accordance with FOIA. The county’s new FOIA Management System — a GovQA product — makes requesting public records that are held by any department easier for members of the public.
The system is also more efficient because it standardizes and streamlines the process through an online system that is designed to manage public records requests from start to finish.
Members of the public may visit the county’s website at any time to submit a request for public records using a valid email address. The requester may submit records requests and track the request through the system. Through the system, county staff can communicate with the requester, track any applicable fees, and deliver the records. Requesters can view their past requests and related responsive records. In addition, the FOIA Management System provides better data, tracking and accountability for the county’s public records request process.
The fastest and easiest method to submit a records requests is through the FOIA Management System; however, requests can still be submitted by email, U.S. mail, in person, by phone or by fax. To submit a request or learn more about requesting records and FOIA, visit loudoun.gov/foia.