Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New research published - FOIA 2000: The First Year The experience of local authorities in England

The UCL Constitution Unit have published their study of local authorities during covering 2005:

Download the full report (MS Word)

Download Sarah Holsen's presentation about the research to London Connects FOI forum (MS PowerPoint)

Key findings:

-estimate that in the twelve month period from January to December 2005, the 387 local authorities handled a total of 60,361 requests

-top three categories of applicants were:
Private individuals 43%
Businesses 29%
Journalists 11%

Spend on compliance

Total number of



hours per




Cost @



District councils





Other council types





Total across all authorities




Note: The compliance costs relate to the twelve month period from January to December 2005.

-Types of information requested: Respondents were asked to rank eight types of information requested, of which the top four categories were:
Costs and expenses 24%
Active local issues 21%
Contracts 20%
Procedures, policy decisions and meeting minutes 16%

-66% of authorities charged no fees to applicants, and a further 33% charged in 5% or fewer cases. Asked whether the authority’s policy on charging for FOI requests was published on its website, 69% reported that the policy was published and 31% reported that it was not.

-Problems with compliance: Respondents were asked to rank six compliance problem areas, which are ranked as shown below:
Applying exemptions 27%
Inadequate resources 24%
Balancing the public interest 18%
Requests which may affect a third party 17%
Requests which could be subject to EIRs 9%
Other 5%

Positive aspects of compliance: Respondents were asked to rank six ways in which they thought that FOI had positively affected their organisation, which are ranked as shown below:
Culture of more openness 29%
Improved records management 28%
Improved internal communication 16%
Improved public trust and confidence 12%
New information about delivery of services 12%
Other 3%

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