FOI requests fall in February

| 10/03/2009

(CNS): The Immigration Department and the police continue to be the agencies receiving the highest number of requests, according to the Freedom of Information Unit’s February report, and half of the government authorities are yet to receive a request at all. Requests fell during February with 55 requests for information made from 1 to 28 February, compared to 117 during January. Since the law came into effect and up to February, 172 FOI requests have been made and 71 remain in progress.

Of the requests completed so far one has failed to meet the thirty day deadline taking 32 days to close. Despite this one failure most public authorities are responding to requests well within the 30 calendar days allowed by the law, said FOI Coordinator Carole Excell. “Even when consultations with applicants and third parties were necessary, the average response time was fewer than 14 days,” she added.

“I am very satisfied with the efficient responses by the respective information managers,” Excell said. “The challenge for government will be to continue to meet the 30-day requirement consistently, to provide a satisfactory experience for applicants in using the law to obtain information.”

Not everyone, however, is getting want they requested. From the 65 requeststhat were closed in February, while 33 were granted in full, six were granted in part, and five were exempt in their entirety. In seven cases the respective information managers determined that their public authority held no records related to the requests and three requests were deferred. Three more were withdrawn and another eight were already available in the public domain.

February also saw a request for one internal review of the chief officer for the Immigration Department and two appeals were sent to the information commissioner following decisions made by the Legal Department and Public Service Pensions Board.

February FOI implementation report gives examples of the types of requests that were made during the month and along with January’s report s available on the units website: Each public authority also maintains an online disclosure log, in which requests of general public interest (and the decisions made on these requests) are recorded.

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