beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - FOI/EIR release

Handling of Freedom of Information requests: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Published:
8 Mar 2018
Handling of Freedom of Information requests: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00392
Date received: 7 February 2018
Date responded: 6 March 2018

Information requested

1. Any policies, guidelines or guidance related to the handling of Freedom of Information requests by Special Advisers;

2. Details of correspondence relating to Freedom of Information requests which have been sent to the Scottish Government email account or email list "FoI SpAdS PO" – a list with the subject lines and dates of such emails would suffice to protect confidentiality;

3. Details of any Freedom of Information requests which resulted in an initial approval of information release by the FoI handling team but were subsequently amended, or rejected in part or in full following interventions by telephone or email by other officials within the Scottish Government, including Special Advisers. Such information should include dates and where appropriate copies of email correspondence relating to these FoI requests.

Response

1. Much of the information you have requested is available from https://foiguidance.sgworksite.org.uk using the guest log in - Username: SCOTLAND\foi and Password: Scotland1

(https://beta.gov.scot/publications/freedom-of-information-document-collection/ - section on guidance for public bodies).

You may find it helpful to refer to the information within the step by step guide to requests and reviews and in particular step 33 for requests and 32 for reviews which details guidance relating to FOI handling by Special Advisers. I have enclosed a copy of some of the information you have requested. Our internal guidance for working with Special Advisers on Freedom of Information requests can be found at Annex A. A small amount of information has been redacted from this guidance because an exemption under section 38(1)(b)(personal information) applies to the personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

An email address has also been redacted from the guidance because an exemption under section 29(1)(d) applies to that information as it relates to the operation of any Ministerial private office. This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government. However, there is a greater public interest in preserving the efficient and effective operation of the private private office.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

2. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. It may help if I explain that whenever a new FOI request is registered, a new casefile is created on our Electronic Records & Data Management system for information relating to that request. Therefore in order to determine the volume of correspondence relating to FOI requests which has been sent to 'FoI SpAdS PO' mailbox we would need to open and review the information contained within the case files for each individual request received to ascertain whether we hold any correspondence relevant to this part of your request. We would also need to ask every individual involved in answering the FOI request in order to check for correspondence sent to FoI SpAdS PO mailbox which may not have been saved in the casefile. In 2017 alone we received over 3000 FOI requests. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. You may find it helpful to note that the Scottish Government publishes FOI responses where information has been released. You will find details of information released by searching using FOI - https://beta.gov.scot/publications/ You may wish to identify, specific request(s) or a particular topic that you are interested in to reduce the scope of the request and as your request is not limited by time, you may also wish to consider if there is a particular time period in which you are most interested. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on his website at:

http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx.

3. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. It may help if I explain that whenever a new FOI request is registered, a new casefile is created on our Electronic Records & Data Management system for information relating to that request. This information is not centrally recorded. We would need to open and examine all of the documents within each file to ascertain whether they contain any record of involvement of any of the roles listed above. In addition, as some of the details you have requested may not be recorded in the casefile, we would also need to contact all of the individuals involved in the handling of each case to confirm if they held any further information concerning their involvement which had not been saved in the casefile. In 2017 alone we received over 3000 FOI requests. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600.

You may wish to identify, specific request(s) or a particular topic that you are interested in to reduce the scope of the request and as your request is not limited by time, you may also wish to consider if there is a particular time period in which you are most interested. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on his website at:

http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses

FOI-18-00392 Annex A.docx

DOCX
22.9 kB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG