I sat in on an online meeting of FOI advocates in Scotland last Wednesday (SPIF*). It will certainly inform our product development.
Will this become encouraged or even mandated. Private classes of requests such as SARs and sensitive FOI requests should not be included but transparency would dictate that FOI and EIR responses should be available. If you have not been publishing responses already, the challenges grow with every day you delay starting. The problem is that adding a PDL later means you have to go back and check past notes, documents and responses that people wrote in the past and decide what is public and private. Training and good practice at the start are essential.
The AXLR8 Public Disclosure Log system already already has the rules “systematized”.
Here are two Scottish examples that auto publish directly through our business rules from live AXLR8 systems.
It seemed inappropriate to put a hand up in the session as an outside supplier. However, hopefully our clients will speak up for AXLR8 and we will be amongst the solutions considered.
Reviews and appeals:
Interesting how these are growing in volume and as a percentage of Requests. As one attendee asked in the chat, is it that people are dissatisfied with the responses or simply more aware of heir rights? AXLR8 were hoping to provide a “lite” entry product and it is built but only has IRs and not the Reviews and Appeals so we may need to rethink that if this is a key requirement. They are in our Enterprise authority/board model but not in the “lite” rebuild we have created for smaller organisations and “free trial” systems. We will probably add the Reviews and Appeals functionality in from our enterprise system as a result of hearing that from SPIF or have some other offer that is commercially reasonable but also good use of tax payers’ cash.
The Scottish Information Commissioner reported findings of a recent FOI practitioner survey 2022 that awareness of the FOI rights was high and that responses were mostly complete and on time but that the officers often had other pulls on their time. Only 15% said other responsibilities had a negative effect on their FOI duties with over 40% saying it was positive.
Of course, our clients achieve stellar results! However, we did a survey a few years ago under FOI and received 112 responses (many incomplete) from 380 local authorities and every time you read a news article the reporter says something like: “We asked all police forces in the UK and 38 responded” (i.e. less than half).
There is a proposal for more organisations being mandated and needing training on FOI. A proportion will need systems. Now, how can we create a mailing list to tell them we exist? This was very motivational as a supplier of systems, to be transparent.
Always interested in export sales and IRTK and FOI Advocates seem interesting sources.
In their own words:
“The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) was established in 1984 to improve public access to official information, to secure the legal right to access information and to enforce that right. In 2021, CFoIS became a SCIO number SC051263. CFoIS believes in the right of people to find out about how they are governed and how their services are delivered. CFoIS organises SPIF for civil society, the public and private sectors. For further information go to CFoIS website email@example.com @CFoIScot”