Thursday, June 25, 2009

Freedom of Information Annual Report 2008

The Ministry of Justice has published the Annual Report on the operation of the FOI Act in Central Government 2008:
More than four years have passed since the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, marking a step change in openness and transparency in public bodies. The Act has opened up the internal workings of government and public authorities, making them more accountable than ever before and fundamentally changing the relationship between the citizen and the state.
the Government need to continue to build on the culture change already achieved to ensure that freedom of information keeps pace. I am confident that the Freedom of Information Act has already brought about a permanent change in culture and will continue to have a positive and profound effect on the United Kingdom for many years to come.
Rt Hon Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Justice.
Some of the most interesting things are:
  • Monitored bodies received 34,950 "non-routine" FOI & EIR requests - 6% more than 2007
  • Departments of State received 19,175 requests- 13% more than 2007.
  • 82% of requests received a substantive response within the standard 20 working day deadline. However, for Departments of State this figure was 76%.
  • Departments of State "were more than twice as likely to use the permitted extension of the 20-day deadline to allow for consideration of the balance of the public interest."
  • 57% of public interest extensions were completed in 20 working days or less, while 21% took longer than 40 working days.
  • Of the "resolvable" requests, 60% were granted in full, 13% were withheld in part, 21% were withheld in full and 5% had not received a substantive response at the time of monitoring.
  • Monitored bodies received 959 internal reviews on the grounds that some or all of the requested information was withheld. This is slightly higher than the 857 received in 2007.
  • The initial handling of the request under review was upheld fully in 76% of cases. Only 8% upheld the requester's complaint in full.
  • 38% of internal reviews took 20 working days or less, while 30% took between 21 and 40 working days. 16% took longer than 60 working days.
  • There were 153 appeal to the ICO relating to the refusal if information requests by monitored bodies, a fall compared to the 222 in 2007.
  • "Reflecting growing FOI expertise across central government, the Clearing House...changed its referral procedures to focus only on the most complex and challenging cases, resulting in a significant drop in the number of referrals".
Download the report here.

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