Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

Guidance Documents

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Instructions for State Users

What is a guidance document?

A "guidance document" is any document developed by a state agency that provides information or guidance of a general nature to agency staff or the public to interpret or implement statutes or the agency's regulations.
Regulations have the force of law and bind regulated entities (i.e., entities that flout regulations can be punished) and the regulator (i.e., the agency/board has to follow its rules or the courts will order the agency/board to do so). Guidance documents, on the other hand, may sometimes bind regulators but do not bind their regulated entities.
According to § 2.2-4001 of the Code of Virginia, agency minutes or documents that pertain only to the internal management of agencies are not guidance documents (or regulations).

How guidance documents are organized on the Town Hall

A guidance document can apply to an agency, board or an individual chapter. Therefore you will find a guidance document tab on the "View Agency", "View Board" and "View Chapter" pages. Once you've clicked on the guidance document tab, documents will be displayed sorted by Document ID. Document ID is an alpha/numeric field assigned by the agency (up to 20 characters). The agency can adopt whatever format or coding strategy they wish to order the documents. You can optionally sort the documents by their revision date or by their applicability by clicking on the column heading.

For those agencies with many guidance documents you can also click on a small graphic to pull down a search box so you can enter a keyword or phrase and select only those matching guidance documents.


How to upload a guidance document onto Town Hall

guidance document info

How to determine the applicability of a guidance document

In determining applicability, consider whether the guidance document applies to:

Using the selection tree that appears for your agency, indicate the agency, board(s), and/or regulations that the guidance document applies to. The Guidance Document can apply to all boards, selected boards, or one or more selected chapters of a board.

Below is a list of guidance documents that shows all three levels of applicability: (1) applying to all boards for an agency, and (2) applying to all chapters for a selected board and (3) applying to just selected chapters within a board. You can sort the list on the screen by just clicking on the column header. This list is currently sorted by title.

guidance documents

How to edit guidance document information and applicability

How to delete a guidance document

Your Annual List of Guidance Documents to be filed by the Town Hall

No later than December of each year, all of your agency's guidance documents (which are available in an electronic format) must be uploaded on the Town Hall website. In addition, Town Hall will automatically send a list of your agency’s guidance documents to the Registrar on or about December 31 of each year. The requirement that all guidance documents be loaded on the Town Hall is contained in Executive Order 17 (2014). Specifically, it states that:

“Agencies shall make all guidance documents, as defined by Section 2.2-4001 of the Code of Virginia, available to the public on the Town Hall. Any guidance document currently available in electronic format shall be posted on the Town Hall. Any changes to a guidance document shall be reflected on the Town Hall within 5 days of the change.”

To avoid double posting of guidance documents:

Guidance documents can be displayed on Town Hall as well as on the agency's own website without having to upload these documents separately on each site. To eliminate the need for double posting, we recommend that agencies post their guidance documents on Town Hall and then have the guidance document links on their own website point to the Town Hall. Be sure to point your agency website link to the Guidance Document Information page on Town Hall, e.g., Do not point the link on your agency website to the guidance document itself, e.g.,\TownHall\docroot\GuidanceDocs\262\GDoc_DRS_873_v1.pdf, because the URL will change whenever you update the Town Hall with a more recent version of the guidance doc., …v2.pdf, …v3.pdf.

Important notes on uploading guidance documents:

A. Make sure all your guidance documents are loaded on the Town Hall. Note: Where an electronic version of the guidance document is not yet available, instead of uploading the guidance document on the Town Hall, please upload a Word document that lists the name and contact information for the person at your agency who may be contacted in order to obtain a copy.

B. Ensure that the most recent version of each guidance document has been uploaded on the Town Hall.

C. Check your list of guidance documents against your list of guidance documents on the Registrar’s website to ensure your list is complete.

Make sure you have completed/updated the introductory paragraph for your guidance document filing that is required by the Registrar’s office:

Follow these steps:

Step 1: From the agency functions drop down list, choose “My Agency Boards.”

Step 2: Click on the "Edit agency" link.

Step 3: Include the following information (in narrative form) in the text box:

a. Name, address, and telephone number of the staff person(s) to contact for obtaining copies.

b. Name, address, and telephone number of the staff person(s) to contact for asking interpretive or implementation questions.

c. State that (most/all) your guidance documents are available electronically for no charge on the Town Hall.

d. Location for viewing printed copies of your guidance documents.

e. Costs associated with obtaining printed copies of these documents from the agency. If there is no charge, so indicate. If the cost varies depending on the document, so indicate.

f. Any other information that you think would be helpful to the public.

Step 4: Click on the "Save" button. You’re done!