Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Review of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act - a better way to conduct a review?

The above FOI review in Scotland has been taking place since October 2005 and has been a more structured and open process than the review that appears to been taking place of the fees regime by the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

The following questions are asked about fees in the consultation document:

Q12: Do you think the current fees regulations are generally correct? Are they effective?
Q13: A cap is placed on costs in that an authority does not have to comply at all with a
request for information if the projected costs of doing so are above an amount specified by
Scottish Ministers. This is referred to in the fees regulations as the “prescribed amount” and
is currently £600. In your view is this the correct amount?
Q14: Are the elements allowed for in estimating the “projected costs” appropriate?
Q15: Staff time costs which can be charged for is subject to the maximum rate of £15 per
hour. In your view is this the correct amount? Is this the correct approach?
Q16: The regulations did not introduce the provisions in the Act to aggregate costs where 2
or more requests are made by one person or by 2 or more different parties acting in concert.
Is there evidence in light of experience, of a requirement to incorporate these provisions in
future revised fees regulations?
Q17: Do you have any other comments on the content of the current fees guidance (Annex 3
to the Section 60 Code of Practice)
Q18: Do you have any evidence of the resource implications/general impact of FOI(S)A on
your organisation?
Q19: Is the operation of the FOI(S)A fee charging regime working effectively with the
charging regime for the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs)?
Q20: How many times have you issued a fees notice?
Q21: How many times have fees notices which you have issued not been paid?
Q22: Are there any other issues on fees/charging which you wish to raise?

The terms of reference indicate that decisions would be taken in July (none have appeared yet).

Read the full consultation document

View the responses to the consultation. There are an impressive number of responses in comparison to the recent Westminster Select Committee inquiry submission of evidence. Some of responses from public authorities e.g see the response of Aberdeen City Council suggest harmonising some aspects of the FOIA 2000 and FOISA fees regulations.

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