Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How should councils cope with Freedom of Information requests

An interesting piece on ConservativeHome's Local Government Blog on 'How should council's cope with Freedom of Information requests?'
On Monday there was a piece in this section by Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers Alliance about all the Freedom of Information requests that Councils have to cope with these days. Conservative controlled Norfolk County Council has complained about the number of them.

A typical council does get hundreds of FIA requests a year and there is a cost involved. But costs could be reduced if there isn't a great effort made to come up for excuses for witholding the information but it is just handed over.
On Freedom of Information requests the subject cropped up at last night at the Value for Money Scrutiny Committee in Hammersmith and Fulham, which I chair. We were scrutinising the budget and among the efficiencies was an item proposed to save £42,000 a year. It is: "Cost containment. Freedom of Information improvements achieved by implementing better workflows through using new systems and better information on the website to enable enquiriers to self serve." We also talked about presenting the budget with a more detailed, intelligible breakdown of each section. One of the arguments for transparency, for getting all the information available on the website, is that it would reduce the number of FOI requests and Member Enquries as well as the cost of those that do come in.

1 comment:

Paul Francis said...

The original piece by Mark Wallace is well worth reading, too. It mentions Norfolk County Council publishing a list of persistent - in its view - requesters.