ICO to monitor four authorities' FOI responses
Authorities to be monitored for three months after concerns over lateness
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has announced plans to monitor four public bodies between 1 January and 31 March 2013.
The ICO will monitor the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education, the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) in Northern Ireland and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council as a result of concerns over the timeliness of their responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
The public bodies were chosen for monitoring because they were found to have failed to respond to 85% of FOI requests within a 20 working day time limit, or had "exceeded the time limit by a significant margin on numerous occasions".
According to the ICO, "three of the authorities have been the subject of a number of complaints to the ICO over the timeliness of their responses, while the OFMDFM performance statistics for all requests received during 2011 show that only just over half were answered on time, with further delays encountered this year."
The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said, "We will monitor the authorities named today for three months, and may take further action after this monitoring period has expired if we don't see the necessary improvements in each authorities' standard of compliance.
"It is particularly disappointing to see that the advances previously made by the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions, and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council - which were introduced following concerns after previous rounds of monitoring - have not been continued.
"This is not good enough and we expect these authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure that they are meeting their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. We will provide support and advice where we can, but reserve the right to take further action if they fail to step up to the mark."