Question about request: PD for Deputy County Executive for Public Safety
1 answer from Daniel Miller.Related request
I’m a newbie at this and am looking for help on: 1. how to write a good Virginia FOIA request to uncover what a particular government official’s duties are when there is no position description 2. how likely it is for someone to recover filing costs for a petition for mandamus (in other words, is it a waste of my time to keep my hearing date for this coming Friday) 3. general impressions on this response from Fairfax County
Here’s the FOIA request I submitted on 3/4/15,to the Fairfax County (Virginia) Office of Public Affairs:<br/> official position description for the Deputy County Executive for Public Safety, offer letter(s), correspondence and documents related to the creation and appointment of the position, list of all committees, boards, commissions, or other organizations the incumbent for this position serves on in an official capacity, reports and memos created and issued by the incumbent in this role, and expense reports submitted by the incumbent.
After not receiving any of the responses required under Virginia law, I went to court on 4/10/15 and filed a petition for mandamus.
Here’s the response I received later that day (response and docs can be seen at https://www.muckrock.com/foi/fairfax-county-138/foia-logs-fairfax-county-opa-16524/#comm-138824):
“Please be advised that there is no position description for the Deputy County Executive for Public Safety.
Documents responsive to your request for ‘offer letter(s), correspondence and documents related to the creation and appointment of the position’ are attached.
With respect to your request for a ‘list of all committees, boards, commissions, or other organizations the incumbent for this position serves on in an official capacity,’ the request does not comply with Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3704(B) because it fails to identify the records requested with reasonable particularity: it is entirely unclear what records you seek. In addition, under Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3704(D), the County is ‘not required to create a new record if the record does not already exist.’ Your request does not ask for an existing document, but asks that a record be compiled, which would reflect the ‘committees, boards, commissions, or other organizations the incumbent for this position serves on in an official capacity.’
Finally, ‘expense reports submitted by the incumbent’ are attached.
No other documents that are responsive to your request have been identified.”
Thanks for any help you can provide! Yani
You can’t get a list of boards and commissions, because that’s not really something that does exist, not a list anyway. In the job description there should be a description of all the committees on which that position would serve because of his or her office - that’s called an “ex officio” membership. For example, mayors are on zoning boards not as appointed members but as an ex officio member. By virtue of the office is the official term.
As for finding out what boards/committees this guy is on, I recommend FOIAing his name with the state and county (and surrounding county) personnel departments. If he’s on a paid committee or a committee that receives a per diem or travel reimbursements, then that record should be on file with the people who cut the checks. You might also consider requesting the guy’s W-2 form, Forms 1099, timesheets, office expenses, and personnel file. Point is you can get a lot more mileage by investigating the guy than investigating the office.
If you do need to look into the office you might want to check out the County meeting minutes where the office. Maybe you can get video, or a subcommittee meeting where the office was discussed. You can also get ads placed in the paper for the spot.