(800) 995-8696

Virginia fails to support open and transparent government issue

March 1, 2013

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) supports increased awareness of information and allows citizens to access government records. However, certain exceptions to the act have recently been expanded to the chagrin of some representatives.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, lawmakers in the state recently sought to extend an exemption to the FOIA, which permits working papers and some correspondence to be withheld from public records. The extension would pass the same right on to aides and support staff as well, an idea heavily opposed by only a few representatives. The bill passed 35 to 3 in the state Senate and 99 to 0 in the House.

Other projects that aren't subject to the regulations of Virginia's FOIA have also irked some civilians, according to the news source. A research proposal on nuclear energy is utilizing the efforts of a consortium that doesn't answer to the FOIA, while lawmakers are seeking to eliminate public oversight over concealed carry permit processing. While the law itself states that "the affairs of government are not intended to be conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy," many constituents feel that the state isn't upholding that belief.

One way for states like Virginia to enhance public opinion and bolster transparency and open government efforts is to invest in meeting management solutions and technology that streamlines public access to state, county and local records.