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FOIA Fee Policy

Title:: FOIA Fee Policy
Responsible Office: Compliance & Equity
Effective Date:: July 1, 2023
Last Updated:: First Version

I. Scope

This policy applies to all requests for records of William & Mary as a whole university, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (the university) under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to comply with Va Code § 2.2-3700 and all provisions of that chapter.

III. Policy

A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records and shall make all reasonable efforts to supply the requested records at the lowest possible cost. 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 general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. Prior to conducting a search for records, the public body shall notify the requester in writing that the public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for requested records and inquire of the requester whether he would like to request a cost estimate in advance of the supplying of the requested records as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia.

If the university estimates that it will cost more than $200 to respond to a request, the university may require the requester to pay a 50% deposit before proceeding with the request.  The statutory periods for response times are held in abeyance pending the resolution of cost issues. If the university receives no response from the requester within 30 days of sending the cost estimate, the request shall be deemed to be withdrawn.

If any fees owed to the university for previous FOIA requests remain unpaid for 30 days or more after billing, the university may require the requester to pay outstanding fees before processing requester’s subsequent FOIA requests. See Va. Code § 2.2-3704(I).

The university calculates the costs for preparing responses to FOIA requests using the hourly rate of the base salary of the employee(s) who will access, duplicate, supply, or search for the requested records, including time for research, data analysis, report preparation, and redaction, if required.

For FOIA requests which require production of hard copy records, the University will charge a flat fee of 10 cents per printed page.  The university will also charge for the actual costs incurred in transmitting electronic copies or printed copies through the mail.

Please note, any estimate provided is not a fixed amount. Actual costs may be greater or less than the estimated amount. In such a case, the university will refund any overage paid, or invoice for additional payment. If actual costs are determined to be more than 25% greater than the estimate provided, the university will invoice the requester prior to completing additional billable charges.

The university does not typically charge for single requests that require less than one hour to fulfill. 

IV. Authority and Amendment, Implementation

This policy is promulgated in accordance with Chapter 37. Virginia Freedom of Information Act of the Code of Virginia.

VII. Related Documents

Virginia Freedom of Information Act