Thursday, August 04, 2011

Welcome for greater online disclosure - but concern that contracting out will encourage greater secrecy

Press release 4 August 2011

The government’s plans, announced today, to publish more information online about the quality of public services was welcomed by the Campaign for Freedom of Information. “The more that is published proactively, the less opportunity there will be for individual authorities to resist disclosure when the figures show that their performance is poor” the Campaign said.

But the Campaign said that some government policies, risked undermining openness. It highlighted the large-scale contracting out of local authority functions proposed by the Localism Bill. “The more council functions are carried out by contractors, the harder it is to rely on the Freedom of Information Act to scrutinise what is being achieved. There are potential solutions to this, which the government is so far refusing to support. Someone making an FOI request to the council should be able to obtain any information about the contract held by the contractor, unless it is exempt. At the moment, access can be blocked by a confidentiality clause agreed between the contractor and council.”

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