Freedom of Information Act Requests

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The Town of Vienna is a proponent of government transparency and strives to respond to resident questions and requests for information promptly. Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Virginia residents have the right to inspect or receive copies of public documents.

Requests for information may be submitted informally directly to the appropriate Town department via phone call or email or FOIA requests may be submitted more formally via:

  • Email:
  • Phone: 703-255-6330
  • Mail or in person to:
    Karen Thayer, Public Information Officer
    Town of Vienna
    127 Center Street S
    Vienna, VA 22180

Public records

A public record is any writing or recording – including paper records, electronic files, audio and video recordings, among other formats – that is prepared, owned, or in possession of a public body or its officers, employees, or agents as it transacts public business. All public records are presumed to be open and may be withheld only if a specific, statutory exemption applies.

Common exemptions

The Code of Virginia allows public bodies to withhold certain records from public disclosure. Exemptions may include:

  • personnel records
  • active criminal investigations
  • records subject to attorney-client privilege or attorney work product
  • vendor proprietary information
  • records relating to negotiation and award of a contract or acquisition of property prior to a contract being awarded or purchase terms being finalized, where such disclosures would jeopardize the Town’s negotiating position
  • certain taxpayer information such as gross receipts of a specific business used to calculate a business tax
  • proprietary economic development and retention records
  • records created exclusively for use in lawfully held closed sessions
  • public safety records related to responses to terrorist activity and documents related to facilities security.

Response time

The Town is required to respond to FOIA requests within five working days by doing one of the following:

  • providing the records requested
  • withholding records or redacting parts of records due to specific, allowed exemptions
  • informing the requestor that we do not have or cannot find the records requested
  • notifying the requester that an additional seven days is needed to respond and explaining conditions that make the extension necessary.

This five-day response period does not include weekends and holidays – and may be delayed if a cost estimate is requested. Day one is considered to be the day after the request is received or the day after the cost estimate has been approved.


The Town is allowed to charge for actual costs incurred in responding to FOIA requests, which may include copy charges and staff time for researching, collecting, and copying records. The Town of Vienna charges 10 cents for each page provided in hard copy and $2.50 for a thumb drive for digital files. Some documents, such as oversized building plans, may require higher copying costs.

You may request a cost estimate in advance. If the Town estimates that the cost will be more than $200, a deposit may be required. If you owe the Town money from a previous FOIA request that is more than 30 days past due, we may require payment of the previous bill before we respond to the new FOIA request.

FOIA Advisory Council

The Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council can provide answers related to FOIA.