Friday, April 24, 2009

The work of the Information Commissioner: Govt response to the Justice Cttee

The Justice Committee has published the Government's response to its report on the work of the Information Commissioner: appointment of a new Commissioner. The response comments on the Committeee's recommendation about the backlog of freedom of information cases.
2. We recommend that the Ministry of Justice takes the appropriate steps to ensure that there are sufficient resources available to the Information Commissioner to enable the backlog of freedom of information cases to be resolved within a reasonable timescale. (Paragraph 36)

The Government notes the Committee's recommendation.

The Ministry of Justice and the Information Commissioner regularly review the level of funding made available to the Commissioner to discharge his statutory freedom of information responsibilities. In response to business cases provided by the Information Commissioner, he has been provided with grant in aid over and above the baseline fixed for each of the last four financial years, including the current one. In the current financial year, additional funding has been complemented by a secondment scheme. Seven civil servants paid by their parent departments are currently working for the Information Commissioner's Office on the backlog of freedom of information cases

The Government agrees that it is unsatisfactory to the complainant and inefficient for the public authorities involved if complaints remain outstanding at the Information Commissioner's Office for significant periods of time. In agreeing the level of grant in aid for 2009-10, additional funding has been identified although the baseline will remain the same. The additional funding will be made specifically to reduce the outstanding backlog of cases.
Minutes of the ICO Executive Team meeting on 23 March 2009 confirm that £500k of the grant in aid for freedom of information work from the MoJ was dependent on actions to clear the backlog.

The work of the Information Commissioner: appointment of a new Commissioner: Government Response to the Committee's Third Report of Session 2008-09

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