Govt dept gets knuckes rapped for FOI delays

The ICO issued a “formal practice recommendation” to the The Department for Communities and Local Government following delays of up to 400 days for processing freedom of information requests. All freedom of information act requests should be responded to within 20 working days unless special circumstances apply.

The ICO recommendation says:

In issuing this practice recommendation, the Commissioner recognises the assurances already made by the Department. However he considers that, to date, it has failed to demonstrate an appropriate level of commitment to improvement and failed to offer acceptable explanations for the performance issues. Furthermore, the extent of the internal delays are so significant that the Commissioner wishes to make them a matter of public record, in keeping with his general functions to disseminate information on the operation of the Act under section 47 (2). In the Commissioner’s view, the public should be made aware that delays of this nature are not acceptable.”

You can read the whole recommendation here and the Local Government Chronicle’s write up here.
It’ll be interesting to see if the ICO’s report makes any difference to the DCLG’s FOI performance.

One Response to “Govt dept gets knuckes rapped for FOI delays”

  1. Francis Davey says:

    Actually, all FOI requests should be responded to *promptly*. The 20 days is a long stop. The way the act is drafted envisages a requirement on public authorities to act *sooner* than 20 days but never longer than that (unless the process for extending time is used).

    Sorry to seem pedantic, I don’t want us falling into the trap of letting public bodes treat 20 days as a target. In most cases a day or two should be enough.

    The same wording is used for judicial review applications (by the way). Many lawyers (who should know better) get this wrong. Ask them what the time limit is to make a JR application and they will say “3 months”. Wrong. Again the time limit is *promptly* and not more than 3 months. The high court does reject non-prompt applications within the 3 month period, so its not mere pedantry there. We can hope for the same strictness (one day) in the field of FOI.

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