Monday, December 20, 2004

Merry Xmas

This will be the final posting for 2004, Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to all readers the blog will return early in January
FOI forces Treasury rethink

Freedom of information forces Treasury rethink
By Nicholas Timmins, Public Policy Editor
Published: December 20 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 20 2004 02:00

The Treasury is reshaping the way it drafts papers and gives advice to ministers in the run-up to the Freedom of Information Act, which takes effect next month.

FT.com 20th Dec.

Policy advice and analysis was being split so that the two could be separated, potentially allowing the public access to the analysis that lay behind policy decisions, the Treasury said.

Under the legislation, advice to ministers is likely to be exempt from disclosure in order to allow frank discussion within government of policy options. But the act should make available much more of the factual analysis on which decisions are based, the Treasury has conceded.

It and the Department for Transport have been running a pilot scheme since the autumn in which the two are clearly separated, with other departments expected to follow suit.
Cabinet Office email destruction story

'Whitehall Undermining Spirit of Freedom of Information Act'
-Scotland on Sunday
Beith condemns Whitehall email destruction plan -Guardian
Whitehall Emails Must Be Kept, Says MP -The Scotsman
E-mail deletion attacked by Beith - BBC
Fees guidance now available

The fees guidance is now on the DCA website

The 4th and final annual report on implementation is also now available

You can also see the Lord Chancellor signing the commencement order for FOI

Friday, December 17, 2004

UK and Germany aim to curb official secrecy

Financial Times 17th Dec.

"Traditions of government secrecy in Britain and Germany are heading for the history books as the two countries prepare to grant greater public access to official information. In Berlin today the German parliament will debate draft rules for a freedom of information act which is expected to become law in mid-2005. Apart from Luxembourg, Germany is the only European Union member state without existing or pending freedom of information legislation"
Freedom of Information Act Awareness Guidance No 26

Freedom of Information Act Awareness Guidance No 26: Communications with Her Majesty and the Awarding of Honours

The guidance from the IC is hardly encouraging for the requester: "It has been suggested by those with experience of royal matters that in practice very little additional information will become available under FOI; it will be a case of codifying and establishing more formal guidelines for the existing arrangements public authorities already have in place for dealing with information relating to royal communications.". The guidance is factually correct in the interpretation of the aspects of the Act relating to the S37 but the tone feels very deferential. I think there will be much information that will be "in the public interest" to release that this guidance doesn't seem to pick up on. Surely it will be in the public interest to know what attempt Prince Charles has made to intervene on education policy, I would argue that this information needs to be in public domain to further debate on the role of the monarchy. My argument would that if the Royals don't want this information to become public than perhaps they shouldn't intervene in political areas?
NHS 'unprepared' for information changes

Debbie Andalo
Friday December 17, 2004
The Guardian

Nearly a quarter of NHS communication officers are unprepared for the Freedom of Information Act, according to a survey published today.

Research, carried out by the independent consultancy Freedomofinformation.co.uk, revealed that 24% of communication officers questioned said they were definitely not prepared for the statutory changes.

Also, 25% were worried that their records management system would be unable to meet the demands of the act, which include a 20-day deadline in meeting any requests for information under the act.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Fees: reasons to be cheerful?

There has now been some time to reflect on the fees regulations that were finally published by the DCA last week. It was back in May when the debate about fees first hotted up when a Treasury paper suggested that a harsh charging regime should be used (in comparison to pervious drafts related to charging 10% of the proscribed costs plus disbursements). The minutes of the fees working group I requested in August created some headlines about the possible options being considered and the lack of final decision as the January 2005 deadline loomed ever closer. The DCA have dragged their heels badly on this - it is a bad situation for public authorities to be in one week before Xmas. To make things worse the Regs are still not on the DCA site and there is no sign of the additional guidance specifically for fees.

If you are struggling with the wording of the Regs: there is a clear explanation in the DCA Press release

Fees: the requester perspective
From the perspective of the Freedom of Information Act user the fees look like fair system. Most requests should be free and the cost estimation rate at £25 an hour seems reasonable based on overseas comparison. The main issue at stake is that costs for most requests should not be a barrier to use. The problems I feel that may emerge will be in inconsistencies across the public sector in the way the costs up to the limits will be calculated - a request to one authority with excellent procedures and systems may be met and at another refused because of the cost limit. Another issue that may cause a problem is that as answering requests over the £600 and £450 limit is discretionary and again inconsistencies may emerge.

To users of the Act the main advice will be to monitor fees and charging when you are putting in multiple requests across many authorities - if you feel there are unjustifiable differences between charging policies raise it with the authority concerned and enter into a dialogue. In the early days we will have to expect some differences and pointing them out to authorities can only be a good thing. If you don't get anywhere on this route, complain to the Information Commissioner.

If you are part of a group and you don't want to requests to be aggregated together, be aware of the 60 rule in the fees regs, some careful timing of your requests will help.

All authorities should clearly explain their charging policies on their websites or other information points. The policies should also say when the disbursement charges (e.g. photocopying or postage) may be waived.

As £25 an hour can be charged it will important that you are not passed on the costs of poor information management. It will be interesting to see if the performance of authorities who have invested heavily in elecronic document and records management systems and search tools perform better in locating and retrieving information.

Overseas

Comparing briefly to overseas we can see the UK regime is as generous or more generous. Ireland charges 15 Euro standard fee with other charges on top. (also 74 Euro for an internal review). In Canada each request filed under the Access to Information Act costs $5 (money order or cheque payable to the Receiver General of Canada*). There may be additional charges if copying, computer processing or search and preparation time is required. (The first five hours of search and preparation are free.) Most requesters pay no fees beyond the initial $5 charge. In Canada 2002-3 average fees collected per completed request was $12.76. In the US there is no initial fee to file a FOIA request and, in the majority of requests made no fees are ever charged. By law, however, an agency is entitled to charge certain fees, which depend on the category of requester you fall into.

Fees: the public authority perspective

The following next steps will be important for public authorities in preparing for January:

-Drafting of formal fees policy
-Drafting of fees letter/notice
-Deciding on charges for disbursements such as photocopying and postage and waivers e.g first 20 pages free
-Deciding whether to still to fulfill requests over the £600 or £450 limits
-Deciding at what point not answer requests over £600 and $450 e.g stop at £1000
-Development of charging mechanisms: invoicing, e-payment or cheque etc. Balance will need to made with regards the costs of processing an invoice (this could be as much as £40.)
-Ensuring there are common approaches in relevant parts of your sector, geographical regions
-Development of fees appeal mechanisms and refund arrangements
-Make sure all references to the old 10% mecansim in the draft are removed from any guidance -internal or external

Some key links and documents about fees:

-The Final Fees Regs
-DCA Press release
-Guardian story on the Treasury's suggested fees regime(May)
-Guardian fees working group story (August)
-General DCA guidance: fees section (further fees guidance still to come)
-My Code of Practice request about fees
-Powerpoint slides from DCA
-Irish Fees "a disincentive"
-Irish fees
-Canadian Act fees section
-Canadian Fees policy
-Fees under US FOIA
BBC news features FOI

A new section in the BBC news website on FOI - features a potential user and a section where people can suggest and get help with requests- the website will feature the results. I've also written a small piece for the BBC which will hopefully be on the site in a few days



Wednesday, December 15, 2004

LGA guide to EIRs

Accessing environmental information: a practical guide to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Available from the Local Government Association

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

PPP contracts for tube made public

Heather Brooke has won in her battle to see the PPP contracts for the tube. You can read more about it at: http://www.yrtk.org. The contracts had been listed in the publication scheme but were never released until Heather complained to the Information Commissioner.

You can now download the contracts from the Transport for London websiteTFL pay out £200M every 6 months

Well done Heather!
More FOI on the BBC

Radio 4 - You & Yours covered of Freedom of Information. A discussion
featured: Baroness Ashton, Information and Rights Minister; Phil Boyd,
Assistant Commissioner at the Information Commissioner's Office; Kelly Mannix,
Corporate Records Officer at Southwark Council, and Maurice Frankel, Director
of the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

As always you can listen again on the excellent BBC4 website (Real Player required)
In the public eye

The Freedom of Information Act comes into force next month. At last we'll be able to find out what the officials have been hiding, says Maurice Frankel

Tuesday December 14, 2004
The Guardian

Monday, December 13, 2004

Information act leaves us exposed: industry must make the case for maintaining confidentiality.

From October , has just come to my attention:

Property Week, Vol. 69, Issue. 44, p 67 29 October, 2004 (subscription required)


"THE PROPERTY INDUSTRY CAN NO LONGER KEEP ITS secrets. Over the last year, it has had to accept that the lease and mortgage documents its sends to the Land Registry are open for everyone to look at. Now it must contend with the Freedom of Information Act that comes into force on I January 2005....The challenges presented by the act can be overcome if the property industry starts talking to public authority partners now. Arguing that information should not be disclosed will be much easier if there are clear provisions in an agreement. We need to understand what freedom of information will mean for us and start negotiating"



Japan : Leap in records scrapped prior to FOI

Leap in records scrapped prior to FOI
Yomiuri Shimbun
9 December 2004

"There was a surge in the destruction of documents eligible for disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law by 10 central government offices between fiscal 1998 and 2000 ahead of the law's enforcement in 2001, according to a nonprofit organization's investigation."

Ties in with the previously referenced investigation by the Daily Telegraph
FOI on the BBC

The Politics show

BBC reporter Gillian Hargreaves from the Politics Show (BBC One) presented a report on the new FOI law this Sunday December 12 at noon. If you missed the show, you can view it online here.
[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/politics_show/default.stm]

Heater Brooke is interviewed along with a woman who is seeking access to school admissions policies and a man who has been trying for years to get information about the safety of anti-depressant drugs.

Radio 4: The Message

This programme hosted a discussion about FOI and the media. If you missed the programme on Friday, you can listen again here.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/rams/themessage_current.ram

Friday, December 10, 2004

DCA Press release: fees

Friday 10 December 2004 10:51
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CHARGING REGULATIONS MADE SIMPLE
GNN

The Government has taken an important step to creating a simple system for the exchange of information between public bodies and the public under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which takes full effect on 1 January 2005.

The regulations about charges for information requested under the Freedom of Information Act were laid before Parliament yesterday.

There will be no charge for search and collation time for the vast majority of requests, and the fees regime will be easy for public bodies to operate.

Information Rights Minister Baroness Ashton said:

"The Freedom of Information Act has provided an unprecedented stimulus for cultural change in attitudes to information held by public authorities.

"This Government has maintained that there should be no financial barrier to people who want information about decisions taken about their children's schools, their hospitals, their police forces, and the other areas which affect their lives.

"The fees introduced today are designed to be easy for public bodies to operate, and to enable people to obtain most information for just the costs of printing, photocopying and postage.

"This system will be simple to operate. In the majority of cases, it will be immediately obvious that the cost will not exceed the appropriate limit. The public authority will, therefore, not need to estimate the cost of such requests in order to decide whether or not to reply."

Public bodies can only refuse to answer a request on the grounds of cost if it would cost more than £450, which equates to about two and half days of searching time. For central government, the limit is £600, roughly three and a half days searching time.

When calculating whether answering a request would exceed the appropriate limit, authorities can take account of the costs involved in the following activities:

* determining whether the information is held,
* locating and retrieving it, and
* extracting the information (including editing).

They cannot take account the costs of considering whether information is exempt under the Act.

Lord Falconer announced the fees regime in his speech to the Society of Editors annual conference in Newcastle on 18 October.

Notes to Editors

Lord Falconer's speech to the Society of Editors annual conference:
http://www.dca.gov.uk/speeches/2004/lc181004.htm

If a request would cost less than the appropriate limit, and there is no other basis on which it may be refused or otherwise dealt with, authorities must answer the request. The maximum fee that can be charged in these cases is limited to the specified costs of postage, printing and photocopying; most of the costs in these cases will be met by the public authority.

DCA is recommending that where the cost of communicating the information to the applicant is low, authorities should waive the charge for postage, printing and photocopying.

If a request would cost more than the appropriate limit, and the authority is not otherwise obliged by law to answer it, the authority may charge a fee if it chooses to answer the request. The maximum fee that may be charged is equivalent to the total estimated costs of:

* determining whether the authority holds the information, locating and retrieving the information, and extracting the information from a document containing it; and
* informing the applicant whether it holds the information and communicating the information to the person making the request (by means of postage, printing and photocopying.

Where the fee would be particularly high (for example, if the cost of complying with a request would exceed the appropriate limit), it should discuss with the applicant whether he or she would prefer to modify the request to reduce the cost.

If the applicant does not agree with the proposed fee, they can appeal to the Information Commissioner.

Public authorities do not need to provide information on request if it is otherwise reasonably accessible. Where information is made available in accordance with a public authority's publication scheme, it will be always regarded as being reasonably accessible, including where it is available only on payment.

Public authorities are allowed to include in their publication schemes a list of standard fees and charges for the services they provide under that scheme - all elements of a publication scheme are subject to the approval of the Information Commissioner.

The right to access information needs to be balanced by the need of public authorities to carry out their core duties. For this reason, the Act allows for public authorities to decline to comply with certain requests for information on the grounds of cost where these would be particularly expensive, even if the applicant is willing to pay for the information.

Press release ends



Fees Regs

The fees regs have no been laid in Parliament, you can now download from here: feesregsactual.pdf. They will be on the DCA website along with guidance later. Thanks to Warren from the DCA for making these available to me.

I will post comments when I have fully digested the regs in full. The main core is as outlined previously - the appropriate limit for Central Govt is £600 and £450 for the the rest.

Steve


Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002: a guide for the information professional

CILIPS launched their first continuing professional development publication “Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002: a guide for the information professional” at an event sponsored by SLIC in Perth’s A.K. Bell Library yesterday.

The 32 page publication is intended as a guidance document for the Scottish information community and includes sections on legislative differences between Scotland and the UK, publication schemes, sectoral examples, training issues as well as a bibliography and resources list.

The publication is available to download as a PDF. From CILIPS/SLIC website at http://www.slainte.org.uk/

Further guidance

Freedom of Information Act Awareness Guidance No. 27: Prohibitions on Disclosure

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Open to Question; Journalism and Freedom of Information

The following paper is available from the Reuters foundation:

Mr Martin Rosenbaum (UK, BBc): Open to Question; Journalism and Freedom of Information

Paper: This is a study of how journalists in two countries make use of freedom of information legislation, ahead of it coming into force in the UK in January 2005. The two countries studied are: first Ireland, which introduced FOI a few years ago and has since seen a backlash from hostile forces of officialdom which led to the Act being heavily amended and narrowed down; and secondly Sweden, which has the strongest tradition of state openness anywhere in the world.
Conservatives comment on Select Committee report

From Conservative Party website:

"Reacting to today's Constitutional Affairs Select Committee report, which criticises the Department for Constitutional Affairs for lack of advice, coordination and leadership in the introduction of Freedom of Information Act in January, Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs Oliver Heald said:

"There are 100,000 public bodies which have to comply with the new Freedom of Information Act in January. It is clear that many are not ready and the system will only be able to cope if few applications are made.....The DCA have had 4 years to get this right. If Lord Falconer and Tony Blair had concentrated on this rather than trying to abolish the Lord Chancellor and set up a Supreme Court, things would be in better shape. Their mixed-up priorities mean the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act is now potentially a disaster in the making."

A rather bland critique, the Conservatives would appear to be not that interested in FOI
US forces face new inmate abuse claims

Daily Telegraph 9/12/04

"The memo was written by the head of the DIA, Vice-Adml Lowell Jacoby. Following the complaints, he told Mr Cambone, special forces officers "threatened" his men, "instructed them not to leave the compound without permission, informed them that their e-mails were being screened" and "ordered them not to talk to anyone in the US......The Jacoby memo became public this week after civil rights groups sued for its release under the Freedom of Information Act. A Pentagon spokesman said the released papers had formed part of previous investigations of abuse, or ongoing investigations."

Judge orders release of Alvis documents to Guardian

"In a significant advance for freedom of information, Mr Justice Park in the high court today ordered the release of the court file containing information about bribery allegations against the arms firm Alvis made in earlier proceedings......As a result of this landmark ruling, journalists should now, with permission from the court, be able to inspect the court record of recent cases in which they are interested, even if the cases are over, and even if they have not been present in court throughout the proceedings. This will make the task of serious journalism easier."

"It will also enable the Guardian to publish a major story tomorrow about the bribery allegations against Alvis. The article, and key documents from the case, will be available at www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade."

Freedom of Information deadline looms

But the public sector isn't sufficiently prepared, says a Whitehall report
Sarah Arnott, Computing 08 Dec 2004

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Further guidance from IC

Awareness Guidance 22 - Vexatious and Repeated Requests

BBC: Preparing for new information law

Thanks for Graham for spotting this.

Article on the BBC website overviews the preparedness of different public sector areas before Jan. 2005

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Gomery Commission provides flowcharts on processing of Information Requests (Canada)

Thanks to Al Roberts for this:

The Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities of the Canadian Government (the Gomery Commission) has provided unprecedented firsthand evidence about the way in which politically sensitive information requests are handled within Canada's federal government.

Readers interested in learning more about the routines used by the ministry at the centre of the controversy -- the Department of Public Works and Government Services -- should read the November 23 testimony of Anita Lloyd, the Department's Coordinator of Access and Privacy.

The November 23 testimony can be downloaded from:
http://www.gomery.ca/en/transcripts/

During her testimony, Mrs. Lloyd referred to three flowcharts used by the department to manage information requests: one for "routine" requests; one for "Interesting No Media Lines" requests; and one for "Interesting Media Lines" requests. The Gomery Commission has provided the flowcharts, and they are now posted at:
http://www.foi.net

(Look under the "Canada" header.)

The procedures described in the flowcharts are not unique to the Department of Public Works and Government Services, as Ann Rees explained in a series for the Toronto Star last year.
Local press to provide forum for debate under FOI

Hold the front page

"Journalists on local newspapers will find that the rules behind releasing Freedom of Information data will help them to do their job, according to regional press man Paul Francis"
Further IC guidance

Awareness Guidance 21 - The duty to confirm or deny

Awareness Guidance 23 - Advice and Assistance

Informal affairs

With the Freedom of Information Act fast approaching, civil servant Roger Andrewes fears the end of the truly revealing private scribble

Guardian
Monday December 6, 2004
BCS launches qualification to prepare public sector for Freedom of Information

The British Computer Society has responded to concerns that public bodies are not prepared for the forthcoming Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by launching a new qualification, targeted at those responsible for enforcing the Act.

The Certificate in Freedom of Information, from the Society's Information Systems Examination Board (ISEB), is the first and only qualification available in the subject area and was created following demand by IT practitioners looking to ensure their organisations are compliant with the forthcoming legislation.

Public technology.net

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has taken the qualifaction
'Few ready' for information act

"High staff turnover at the DCA means few are ready, say MPs
Thousands of public bodies are ill-prepared for the Freedom of Information Act, due to come into force next month, because of government failures, say MPs."

BBC website
MPs warn of freedom act chaos

Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
Tuesday December 7, 2004
The Guardian

"Many of the 100,000 public bodies whose files will be opened from January 1 when the Freedom of Information Act comes into force are ill-prepared and will struggle to cope with a flood of requests, according to a report today by MPs.

The constitutional affairs select committee blames the Department for Constitutional Affairs for failing to provide "strategic control, leadership or early enough guidance to public bodies on the technical aspects of implementation".

The full report will be available later today at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmconst.htm





Monday, December 06, 2004

House of Commons Library Research Paper

Published on 24th Nov. Gives a useful overview of the FOI implementation process. Gives a brief mention to my Code request on fees.

04/84 Freedom of Information implementation

Contents
I Outline of the legislation
A. FoI and devolution
B. Publication schemes
C. Environmental Information Regulations
D. Public records
II Making a FoI request
III Implementation arrangements
IV How much will FoI be used?
A. Experience of the Code of Practice on Access to Government
Information
B. Overseas experience
C. Monitoring arrangements
D. Fees and charges
E. Handling appeals
V FoI and Members of Parliament
A. Parliament
1. Parliamentary administration
2. Parliamentary questions
3. Select committees
B. Elected Representatives and Political Parties
C. How Members and political parties may use FoI

The research papers are: "compiled for the benefit of British Members of Parliament by the staff of the House of Commons Library. They are an occasional series of papers, numbered by year and sequence of publication, and usually deal with topics of current parliamentary interest. They aim to be politically impartial and contain factual information"

There is also a "Standard note" on Freedom of Information Requests available (shorter summary)


Friday, December 03, 2004

Procurement will ‘be more open’

Lord Falconer has vowed that the government’s private sector procurement processes will be ‘much more open’ once the Freedom of Information Act comes into force in January.

Falconer, the constitutional affairs secretary and lord chancellor, has said that Whitehall’s traditional culture of secrecy when dealing with public-private partnerships will be eroded by the FoI. It follows a ‘painful process’ of persuading civil servants and MPs that the move is in the best interests of the UK, he added.

from publicfinance.co.uk

Delete’ button weakens freedom of information law

Taken from Arkansas Times (USA)

"Arkansas has a Freedom of Information law that gives citizens the right to inspect public records. The law’s effectiveness is severely limited by the lack of a law requiring government agencies to retain records so they can be inspected."


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Series of Parliamentary qs on FOI

There was a series of PQs on FOI on the 18th Nov. They covered:
-support of local authorities
-fees
-cost of DCA cmpliance with FOIA

Further details: Hansard

Answers confirmed the commitemt to cover local authority costs and to lay the fees regs (that we're still waiting for)
New awareness guidance from the Office of the Information Commissioner

Awareness Guidance 16 -Investigations

Awareness Guidance 24 - Policy Formulation Minsterial Communication,Law Officers' Advice and The Operation of Ministerial Private Office

Call for papers and board members

Call for papers and board members: Open Government: a journal on freedom of information
ISSN: 1745-8293
www.opengovjournal.org
Supported by Liverpool John Moores University

The inaugural edition of a new journal: "Open Government: a journal on freedom of information", will publish February 2005. The journal will be open access and peer reviewed, publishing on a quarterly basis and will be professionally hosted by Scholarly exchange inc. (www.scholarlyexchange.org)

Academics and FOI practioners are invited to submit papers for publication. Papers can come under the following classifcations:

*Research (2000-5000 words)
*Case study (2500-5000 words)
*Literature review (2500-5000 words)
*Conference Reports (1000 words)
*Brief communication (1000 words)
*Viewpoint (1000 words)
*Book review (600 words)

More details about paper classifications, how to contribute and the current editorial board can be found at www.opengovjournal.org

The Journal is also seeking further Board members with detailed knowledge and experience of FOI from UK or overseas perspectives.

If you interested in either of these areas please contact Steve Wood, the editor: editor@opengovjournal.org

My new book "Business Information Management"

My new book, co-authored with Dave Chaffey entitled Business Information Management has now been published. See more details at Amazon and at the Pearson education site

Dave Chaffey has recognized by the Department of Trade and Industry, NOP World and E-consultancy as one of the “Top 100 hundred people commended by the industry as key influencers and drivers, who have driven the development and growth of e-commerce in the UK over the last ten years."
Would you reveal top secrets?

Birmingham Post
Dec 1 2004

"On New Year's Day new legislation aimed at making access to information easier comes into force. Former GCHQ translator Katherine Gun tells The Birmingham Post's Emma Brady why the Freedom of Information Act will not unlock the Government’s secrets..."


PFI secrecy

Comment piece by George Monbiot in the Guardain relating an investigation into PFI, discusses issues of secrecy related to business cases.

The Guardian 30th Nov.

There is fuller version with detailed references on George's website

References for further reading:

National Audit Office, 28th January 1998. The Private Finance Initiative: The First Four Design, Build, Finance and Operate Roads Contracts. Press Notice. http://www.nao.org.uk/pn/9798476.htm

Pamela Edwards, Jean Shaoul, Anne Stafford and Lorna Arblaster, 2004. Evaluating the Operation of PFI in Road and Hospital Projects. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. Accessible via http://www.acca.co.uk/research/summaries/2270443

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Southwark ready to take the strain

Case study on the preparations at Southwark Council, featured in the Guardian's epublic supplement Kelly Mannix the corporate records manager is interviewed by Michael Cross
Information act sparks row

Guardian 1st Dec. on the changes to the S45 code

"Lord Falconer, the lord chancellor, was accused yesterday of relaxing rules compelling 100,000 public authorities to give prompt replies to the huge number of requests expected once the new Freedom of Information Act comes into force on January 1."
Fourth and final report on proposals for bringing fully into force those provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Laid before Parliament on Monday 29th November, the full report should be on the DCA website later this week

Taken from Hansard:

"The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. Christopher Leslie): Earlier today my right hon. and noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, made a statement in the other place reporting that she has today laid before Parliament, in accordance with section 87(5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the fourth and final report on proposals for bringing fully into force those provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which have yet to be implemented.

The report details what action has been taken by my Department in the final year before full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. It also details the actions taken by other departments and public authorities across the public sector in preparation for full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act on 1 January 2005.

A great deal of work has been done in this final year before full implementation and the report contains many examples of best practice in implementation. The Government are confident that the substantial programme of work reflected in this report will enable public authorities to make a success of the Freedom of Information Act and to realise the benefits of greater openness to both Government and the citizen."
Amnesty to use US FOIA to research use of Taser guns in Iraq

"The group said it would file a Freedom of Information Act request today for the records of Tasers used in Iraq. Tasers have microchips that record each use of the weapon and Amnesty said it believes there is evidence that they were present at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad where prisoners were allegedly abused."

From Bloomberg.com