Friday, May 11, 2007

FOI statistics October to December 2006

The eight quarterly report providing FOI statistics for central government has been published by the DCA, covering the period October to December 2006:
Executive Summary

Departments of State reported receiving 4,500 “non-routine” information requests during the fourth quarter of 2006 (Q4). Other monitored bodies received 3,500 requests. These totals include 190 requests handled under the amended Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs).

During Q4 of 2006, 91 per cent of all monitored bodies’ requests (excluding those "on hold" or lapsed) were "in time", in that they were processed within the statutory deadline or were subject to a permitted deadline extension.

Of all "resolvable" requests received during Q4 of 2006, 59 per cent were granted in full.

In 2006, monitored bodies had a cumulative total of 1085 requests referred for Internal Review on the grounds that information was withheld. Of the 864 Internal Reviews with a known outcome at the time of monitoring, 77 per cent resulted in the request’s initial handling being upheld in full.
Interestingly the volume of requests to central government has increased:
"This overall total for Q4 of 2006 is 3.5 per cent greater than in the corresponding quarter last year (i.e. Q4 of 2005). The number of requests received by Departments of State increased by 13 per cent during this 12-month period, but the total received by other monitored bodies fell by 7 per cent."
On timelines, performance slipped slightly:
"Across all monitored bodies, 83 per cent of requests during Q4 of 2006 were sent a response within this standard deadline. Ninety-one per cent of requests received during Q4 were "in time", in that they either received a response within the standard deadline or were subject to a permitted deadline extension. Both of these measures, are slightly lower than in the preceding two quarters, but performance compares favourably with the corresponding quarter in the previous year.

It is notable that there have been small "dips" in timeliness performance in the final quarters of both the 2005 and 2006 calendar years. This suggests that there may be a seasonal factor at work here - possibly an effect of staff being on leave over the Christmas period."
The report also provides details of the duration of deadline extensions for the whole of 2006:
"the commonest period for which a deadline was extended [in the 2006 calendar year] was more than 40 days, accounting for 26 per cent of all extensions. However, almost a half (49 per cent) of completed, deadline-extended requests were subject to extensions of no more than 20 working days, and almost three quarters (74 per cent) were subject to extensions of not more than 40 days."
Read the full report.

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