In a blow to transparency, Virginia conceals names of government workers using credit cards

On a recommendation from its vendor, Virginia has removed government employee names from credit card expenses, a move that contradicts the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, experts say.

Bank of America advised state leaders to withhold the names of people with state-issued credit cards. Bank of America said the advice is intended to reduce the threat of identity theft.

Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, an NFOIC member, said that under state law the public cannot be denied access to records of any government employee’s allowances or reimbursements for expenses. It’s important to know how particular workers spend tax money, she said.

“How the government is spending taxpayer money is kind of the most basic window into government operations, and the most basic element of accountability,” Rhyne told the Richmond Times-Dispatch for a Dec. 10, 2021, article. “Because expenditures reflect budgeting and priorities, and we as citizens are always going to be interested in and have an interest in knowing if those priorities still align with our own so that we can make a decision whether or not this is how we want to be governed.”