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The vast majority of public bodies in England and Wales will have to provide statistics on how quick they are responding to FOI requests, the government has said.

Public authorities that have more than 100 members of staff will be required to publish their FOI performance.

This will include councils, police forces, NHS organisations, schools, and more.

The new measure comes from the government’s Open Government Action plan, which sets out how it will be more transparent in the coming years. The plan says publication of the stats will allow people “to better hold public authorities to account”.

At present only central government and related organisations are obliged to publish their performance.

The statistics are published quarterly and provide details on how many requests have been received, whether the request was responded to on time, exemptions used and more.

Staff at the Information Commissioner’s Office use the figures to determine which authorities are monitored for poor performance.

The change will be implemented as part of a re-write of the Section 45 code of practice. The code sets out best practice guidelines on how public authorities should handle FOI requests.

These guidelines include publicly displaying contact details for FOI teams and staff members.

The code of practice has not been updated since the FOI Act was enacted in 2005.

“A revised Code of Practice will ensure the range of issues on which guidance can be offered to public authorities is sufficient and up to date,” the government plan says.

“Public authorities should have sufficient guidance to properly manage information access requests in order to protect the right of access to information the FOI Act provides.”

Matt is a digital journalist, freelancer and has written a book on the Freedom of Information Act for journalists. He runs this site in his spare time aiming to help raise awareness of the Freedom of Information Act and its uses. He can be found tweeting @mattburgess1.

1 COMMENT

  1. God help the ICO then because don’t forget they are aPublic Authority and their performance since their BS Dransfield vexatious case GIA/3037/2011bisblessvthan satisfactory

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