Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Evidence from Constitutional Affairs Committee now on Parliament website


MINUTES OF EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE constitutional affairs committee

implementation of the freedom of information act

Tuesday 14 September 2004


Full transcript


Q21 Mr Soley: Finally, I know you do not have a formal responsibility to report on how ready other agencies are for the Freedom of Information Act but you are in a position to make some sort of assessment of local authorities over other agencies. I was just wondering if you could give the Committee some idea of your assessment of where other organisations are up to in terms of being ready for the Freedom of Information Act?

Mrs Tyacke: Yes. We are coming at it from a very long-term perspective; records management and archives go on forever, well I like to think so. In the particular issue that you are enquiring into and our impression - and it is only an impression - is that in the wider public sector things are coming along, but are patchy. I noticed only last night in the Evening Standard that people are evidently on the move because there is an advertisement in a London local authority for an information and records manager. I think an earlier survey indicated that some authorities did not have such a person and it looks as if they are now moving to do that. Some authorities were having problems getting a policy together and it looks as if that is now moving. This particular post is not only about information and records management, but also is to take on data protection and those other elements which are affected. I suppose it would be true to say that we think the wider public sector is patchy but coming along. In central Government, as I say, there has been a long tradition of records management. Obviously, it would depend very much on the particular question that is put to central departments as to how they are able to manage to answer the question. There are some questions that some departments will probably have a greater impact upon them: I imagine Works and Pensions is one, there are some other departments which may well be around the policy area in records management terms, it would very much depend on the quantity of records that need to be sorted through as to whether, in the event, they are absolutely prepared for FOI. There is guidance; there are systems and it can be done.

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