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Thread: FOIA Request from a county in VA

  1. #1
    Regular Member possumboy's Avatar
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    A FIOA request was madeof a countyschool in Virginia. They are charging $.20/page plus time of all the staff.

    I know they can charge cost, but $.20/page is really expensive and they also charge time for two people to copy and review. Does this seem right to everyone?

    "A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. 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 generalbusiness of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. [rules based on geographical location snipped]"

  2. #2
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    possumboy wrote:
    A FIOA request was madeof a countyschool in Virginia. They are charging $.20/page plus time of all the staff.

    I know they can charge cost, but $.20/page is really expensive and they also charge time for two people to copy and review. Does this seem right to everyone?

    "A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. 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 generalbusiness of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. [rules based on geographical location snipped]"
    I would question why they need 2 people. One I could understand but two makes me think of having an intern being supervised by an admin assistant because the intern can't be trusted with a copy machine.

    School boards, especially PWCSB, like to abuse FOIA. Send another letter asking for a detailed billing breakout to include labor hours and then include that section and ask "In reference to the following provision, detail how your proposed billing conforms to public law."

    The other option is to go in and inspect the records personally. It's zero cost to you (except your time) and you get the added benefit of annoying those people up front and personal.

    Be advised, if it's a K-12 school, don't carry. If it's there law office in Manassas - well thats different.

  3. #3
    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    possumboy wrote:
    A FIOA request was madeof a countyschool in Virginia. They are charging $.20/page plus time of all the staff.

    I know they can charge cost, but $.20/page is really expensive and they also charge time for two people to copy and review. Does this seem right to everyone?

    "A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. 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 generalbusiness of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. [rules based on geographical location snipped]"
    As a former state agency employee who dealt with FOIA stuff - consider the 20-cent per page a bargain. Check your local commercial copier place and see whay you could have been charged. :what:

    Demand - not ask for - an invoice showing the actual time and the salary level of each person for whom they are billing time. Review it carefully to see if they are padding anything. Depending on the type of documentation being requested, it should run about 1/4- to 1/2-hour for some mid-levelmanegerial type to determine what you are asking for, andmaybe about 1 hour for some lowest-level clerk to run it thru the copier, and maybe 1/2-hour for some upper-level flunky to review it. Unless you are delving into stuff that requires recision of person/personnel information therer should be no lawyers involved.

    If you think you are being gouged, pay up and then file a complaint with the Virginia Fredom of Information Advisory Council http://www.agencydirectory.virginia....sory%20Council. Those fpolks really do not like it when agencies try to use excessive fees to prevent citizens from accessing government records, and they pack serious clout.

    stay safe.

    skidmark
    "He'll regret it to his dying day....if ever he lives that long."----The Quiet Man

    Because stupidity isn't a race, and everybody can win.

    "No matter how much contempt you have for the media in all this, you don't have enough"
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  4. #4
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    skidmark wrote:
    possumboy wrote:
    A FIOA request was madeof a countyschool in Virginia. They are charging $.20/page plus time of all the staff.

    I know they can charge cost, but $.20/page is really expensive and they also charge time for two people to copy and review. Does this seem right to everyone?

    "A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. 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 generalbusiness of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. [rules based on geographical location snipped]"
    As a former state agency employee who dealt with FOIA stuff - consider the 20-cent per page a bargain. Check your local commercial copier place and see whay you could have been charged. :what:

    Demand - not ask for - an invoice showing the actual time and the salary level of each person for whom they are billing time. Review it carefully to see if they are padding anything. Depending on the type of documentation being requested, it should run about 1/4- to 1/2-hour for some mid-levelmanegerial type to determine what you are asking for, andmaybe about 1 hour for some lowest-level clerk to run it thru the copier, and maybe 1/2-hour for some upper-level flunky to review it. Unless you are delving into stuff that requires recision of person/personnel information therer should be no lawyers involved.

    If you think you are being gouged, pay up and then file a complaint with the Virginia Fredom of Information Advisory Council http://www.agencydirectory.virginia....sory%20Council. Those fpolks really do not like it when agencies try to use excessive fees to prevent citizens from accessing government records, and they pack serious clout.

    stay safe.

    skidmark
    When talking about "actual cost" for copies.. figure this:

    Almost all commercial copiers have service contracts that charge by the page

    Office Copier XYZ has a maintenace plan of $50 per month for 2,000 copies + $0.02 per additional copy. This fee is inclusive of EVERYTHING(toner, drum, maintenance, service calls, repair) except for paper which is about 1 cent per page.

    Let's break it down:
    $0.04 - Amortized cost of the copier for "expected service life" (ie:$10,000 copier with a service yield of a quarter-million copies)
    $0.02 - Service & Toner costs
    $0.01 - Paper
    $0.01 - electricity

    That's 8 cents a page. 8 cents a page is on the high-side. Check with your business office for a sales brochure froma copier sales rep. Most copier companies like to push new copiers on the "it's cheaper to operate than what you have, and here's the data" sales pitch

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