The Scottish Government has welcomed a report by the Scottish Information Commissioner into how it handles Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, and will accept the report’s recommendations in full.
Yesterday’s report follows a review into the government’s approach to handling FOI requests from journalists compared with those from other requestors.
In his report, the Scottish Information Commissioner Daren Fitzhenry, highlights ‘significant improvements’ to the government’s FOI performance and sets out seven recommendations to build on recent progress.
Minister for Parliamentary Business Joe Fitzpatrick said:
“Being open and transparent is a priority set out in our current Programme for Government. We welcomed and cooperated fully with the Scottish Information Commissioner’s review and are happy to accept his recommendations in full to support our continued improvement.
“As the report highlights, we have already implemented a number of changes that have resulted in significant improvements to our FOI performance. In the first five months of 2018 we responded to 93% of FOI requests on time, exceeding the 90% target set by the Information Commissioner and a 10% increase on last year. Outside the FOI process, last year the Scottish Government responded to over 5,000 queries from journalists in a matter of hours.
“Whilst the Commissioner makes clear in his assessment that he has found no evidence to substantiate a number of the criticisms that have been made about the Scottish Government’s approach we are determined to learn from this review, to further improve our performance and to further enhance our position as an open government. Working with the Commissioner we will produce an action plan to take forward these recommendations.”
Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government Leslie Evans said:
“Our staff recognise the crucial role they have to play to ensure the Scottish Government meets our responsibilities under Freedom of Information legislation.
“During the past year we have taken action to ensure improved performance, including allocating additional resources to our FOI unit, intervening early to ensure effective case management, developing a new tracking system and working across every Directorate to address local action. We publish all FOI responses online.
“I look forward to working with the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner to build on these achievements in implementing the recommendations in the report.”
The Scottish Information Commissioner’s report is available here.