Is it legal for elected officials to text during public meetings? Virginia FOIA Council may soon weigh in

Elected officials secretly texting each other during public meetings may or may not become a problem requiring a statewide fix. But it’s happening enough that a Virginia transparency panel may soon issue guidance to city councils and county boards on the legality of politicians tapping out messages on their phones while conducting public business. On…


Virginia: A new push to increase government transparency

The election of two former journalists to the House of Delegates in last month’s elections may bode well for Virginians who see the need for greater transparency in state and local government and for a strengthened Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Danica Roem, a former newspaper reporter from Prince William County, and Chris Hurst, a…


Va. Coalition for Open Government: Education privacy law used as excuse to used to conceal records

Education is a $1.1 trillion industry in America, one requiring vigilant public oversight – oversight that increasingly is frustrated when answers to simple questions are concealed behind an impenetrable wall of “student privacy.”

Ask a public university or a school district anything about any issue of public importance – sexual harassment by employees, crime on campus, athlete recruiting scandals – and you can expect to hear: “We can’t tell you anything because of FERPA.” Even when they know it’s not true.


Va.: New Laws Would Help and Hurt Access to Information

For advocates of government transparency, the General Assembly's 2017 session was a mixed bag, resulting in bills that both increased and decreased information available under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, the session saw fewer FOIA-related bills than in past years. Even so, the group stayed busy opposing legislation that Rhyne said would keep important information from the public.


Va. bill would exempt fracking chemicals from FOIA

Open government advocates are alarmed at a legislative subcommittee’s approval of a bill that would hide from the public record the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, said House Bill 1678 would violate the public’s right to know about possible environmental and health hazards posed by fracking, in which liquids are injected into the ground to extract oil or gas.


Virginia Coalition for Open Government: 2016 Open Government Award Winners

The Virginia Coalition for Open Government is pleased to announce the winners of its 2016 open government awards. The awards are given to individuals or organizations who have made use of public information laws to keep government accountable and to inform their fellow citizens.

Professor Marc Edwards from Virginia Tech is this year’s Laurence E. Richardson citizen award winner; Sarah Kleiner and Katy Evans of the Richmond Times-Dispatch will receive the media award; and Arlington County will receive the award for government.