VDH opts to withhold records that could shed light on internal investigation of OEMS

EMS Generic
Posted at 6:10 PM, Oct 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-05 21:29:37-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia Department of Health has opted to withhold public records that could shed more light on why they are conducting an internal investigation of their Office of Emergency Medical Services after a budget shortfall.

CBS 6 first reported on the investigation nearly a month ago after we learned the OEMS experienced a budget shortfall in the last fiscal year.

That shortfall forced the office to cancel its annual symposium where many of Virginia’s EMS workers participate in important training that helps them fulfill continuing education requirements.

Since learning about the internal investigation, CBS 6 filed a public records request to try to understand the office’s finances better.

In our records request, we asked questions like:

How much money did OEMS have when VDH initiated its investigation versus its total budget for fiscal year 2023?

OEMS investigation.png

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We also asked for an itemized list of budget transfers in fiscal years 2023 and 2022 to try to understand where the money went.

But, the VDH withheld all records that could answer those questions citing a portion of state FOIA law that allowed a state agency to withhold such records when they have been provided to internal auditors for a state agency.

The law does not say the agency must withhold the records, only that it’s their choice if they want to or not because the records are exempt from “mandatory disclosure.”

VDH did tell CBS 6 the withheld documents were the OEMS budget workbook, OEMS budget, and accounting records for July through September 2023, and spreadsheets with details OEMS expenditures.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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