Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Authorities facing regulatory action for FOI delays

The Information Commissioner's Office has announced that several public authorities, including the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Defence, are facing regulatory action for failing to reduce the time they take to respond to Freedom of Information requests:
The ICO monitored the performance of 33 public authorities for a period of three months, following concerns about delays in their responses to FOI requests. Of the 33 authorities, the ICO is in discussions with several organisations about the improvements they still need to put in place. The Commissioner has particular concerns about delays at the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence and Birmingham City Council. Discussions on appropriate regulatory action are now taking place.

Four other authorities - the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the London Borough of Islington, Wolverhampton City Council and Westminster City Council - have been asked to sign undertakings to improve their performance in this area.

The remaining 26 authorities have maintained or improved their response times sufficiently, and no action is being taken against them. However, the ICO has sent letters to the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police Service, NHS North West, the London Borough of Croydon, the Scotland Office and the London Borough of Newham to put on record that, while all of them are now meeting the required standard, the monitoring has revealed some areas of concern.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:

“I am delighted that over two thirds of the authorities whose performance we have been monitoring have managed to overcome their problems. However, the remaining authorities have not done enough to convince us that they have a clear and credible plan for getting back on track. Over the next four weeks, we shall be discussing appropriate next steps with them.”
The ICO has also published its latest list of authorities whose performance is being monitored. These are:

  • Barnsley Metropolitan Council
  • City of London Police
  • Cornwall Council
  • Department for Education
  • East Lancashire NHS Trust
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Highways Agency (an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport)
  • Kent County Council
  • Kirklees Council
  • London Borough of Southwark
  • NHS South West London (Wandsworth Borough Team – formerly NHS Wandsworth)
  • North East Lincolnshire Council
  • North Somerset Council
  • Nottingham City Council
  • Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
  • Surrey County Council
  • Surrey Police
  • Waveney District Council

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