Councils not ready for Act

The public sector IT managers’ organisation Socitm has said that not all councils are ready to deal with freedom of information requests.

In the January 11, 2005 issue of Computer Weekly magazine, Socitm president Chris Guest said: There will be a lot of procurement of document management systems into the year. Some people are running behind.

But he added that other authorities are wrongly shifting responsibility for freedom of information onto IT departments. The act, he said, …is an organisational issue. In some cases it has been moved on to the head of IT – that is the wrong approach. It is about cultural change within the public sector from the need to know to the right to know. There are issues to do with IT, but they are part of a wider business change.

For those authorities short of cash, Socitm advises publishing as much information as possible proactively online, citing research that has shown customers prefer self-service and could handle their own freedom of information enquiries. But to do this, the information must first be available and easy to find.

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