FAQs

FAQ

 

Q: Who can submit a request for public records?

A: Virginia’s FOIA provides that public records shall be open to citizens of the Commonwealth, representative of newspapers and magazines with circulation in the Commonwealth, and representatives of radio and television stations broadcasting in or into the Commonwealth.

 Q: How do I request a public record?

A: You can use this web portal to submit a public request to Virginia Tech. Select “Make Request” from the main page and fill out the form to create an account. The form will include an area for you to describe which documents you would like to request. Virginia Tech’s FOIA Officer or the Virginia Tech Police Department will communicate with you and provide the records to you through your account on Next Request.

Q: What information should I include in my FOIA request?

A: A FOIA request must ask for existing records or documents.  FOIA permits one to inspect or receive copies of existing records.  FOIA does not require the creation of records that do not exist, and it does not require the production of general information that is not a part of records or documents.    

A FOIA request must identify records with "reasonable specificity."  This is a common-sense standard.  It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires enough detail to be provided so that Virginia Tech can identify and locate the records being sought.

A FOIA request may include a preferred format for receipt of records in any format used by Virginia Tech in the regular course of business.  For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via e-mail, on a computer disk or printed.

Q: What if I no longer need the requested document?

A: If you no longer need your requested documents and would like to close the request, simply log into your next request account and send a message stating you would like to close the request.

Q: Do I have to give a reason for my request?

A: No, you are not obligated to state why you are requesting the records.

Q: When will I receive a response to my request?

A: Virginia’s FOIA allows for a 5-business day response. Most requests are completed within this timeframe. If additional time is needed, you will be contacted. 

Q: How do I access my request once I have submitted it?

A: Once your request is submitted, Next Request will send a message to the email you provided indicating your request has been received. To access your request you can follow the link provided in the email and login to your request or login through the Next Request main page at wsu.nextrequest.com and select your request from the list.

Q: What fees are involved in making a request for public records?

A: Under Virginia’s FOIA, a public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for requested records.

If the estimated cost to respond exceeds $200, Virginia Tech may require a deposit equal to the full amount of the estimate prior to completing your request.  

Q: Am I required to use Next Request to submit a request for public records?

A: No, Next Request is provided as a user-friendly portal for both the requester and for Virginia Tech;  however, a request for public records can also be submitted via email to foia@vt.edu or in person or by mail to the University’s FOIA Officer (Advancement | Virginia Tech,  902 Prices Fork Road, University Gateway (0336), Blacksburg, VA 24061. Ph. 540-231-1614)

Q: Who should I contact if I have any questions?

A: Should you have questions about your request or about Next Request, please call Virginia’s Tech FOIA Officer at 540-231-1614 or email foia@vt.edu.

Q: Is the University required to create records that do not exist in order to comply with a public request?

A: No. The University is not required to respond to a request for a copy of a public record by creating or compiling a record that does not already exist.  

Q: What is the difference between a Federal Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request and a Virginia Public Record Act request?

A: The Federal FOIA generally applies to federal government agencies and not Virginia state public agencies. If someone makes a request to the University for a public record, it is subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Q: Is the University permitted to withhold some records?

A: Yes. There are numerous exceptions contained in Virginia’s FOIA. Some of the most common exceptions are: student scholastic records, employee personnel records, proprietary faculty research, records subject to attorney-client privilege, and records relating to the negotiation and aware of a contract prior to a contract being awarded.

Q: What information about an employee is considered public?

A: Under Virginia’s FOIA, records of the name, position, job classification, official salary, or rate of pay of, and records of the allowances or reimbursements for expenses paid to, any officer, official, or employee of a public body cannot be withheld. However, the University may withhold the official salaries or rates of pay of public employees whose annual rate of pay is $10,000.

Q: Can I inspect a public record in person?

A. The University is required to provide an opportunity for inspection and examination of its public records during normal business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays). The University may set parameters for how inspections occur to protect those records and to not disrupt campus operations. Alternative arrangements will be necessary in cases in which original documents include protected or confidential information.