Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fees - the "independent" report

Just who are "Frontier Economics" who got the contract for the £75,000 "independent" study into FOI, well according to their website:
Frontier Economics was founded in 1999 by a team of highly experienced consulting economists. Our objective is to provide the highest standards in strategic, regulatory and competition policy advice for business and public policy-makers

.....the Guardian today reports that one of their directors is Lord Turnbull, the former cabinet secretary.

The brief they were given was very narrow (See page 4 of report)and is hardly an open minded report in what it presents - the DCA approach has been very much "find us some evidence to support what we want to do" rather than indepedently research then suggest the options based on the evidence. Should the value of the FOIA be considered in such narrow terms based on pure economics?

A few questions

- where and when was this consultancy advertised and other organisations given the opportunity to bid?

- Why spend £75,000 on a report, but fund no other form of public consultation? (as as been ongoing in Scotland)

- Harriet Harman was asked a PQ about costs of FOI (See written answers: 25th July 2006):

Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire, Conservative) Hansard source

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the average cost has been of answering (a) a Freedom of Information request and (b) a request under the Environmental Information Regulations.

Harriet Harman (Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs) Hansard source

Over 100,000 public authorities are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). We do not have the average cost of answering FOI or EIR requests across all these authorities.

-Was the frontier contract known about at this time? - if yes, the fact that this work was underway should have been acknowledged.

On the Frontier report - I'm still digesting all 75 pages in more detail and plan to make a more considered posting about fees later this week.

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