British ICO Wants Cabinet Office to Respond Faster to FOI Requests


ICO monitors organizations to see how they respond to FOI requestsThe United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says it’s monitoring the Cabinet Office, the Crown Prosecution Service and Hackney Council for a period of three months. The agency is displeased with the fact that it takes these organizations more than it should to respond to freedom of information (FOI) requests.

The organizations will be monitored between January 1 and March 31, 2014. The ICO has taken the decision to put them under supervision after receiving numerous complaints regarding their response times.

“Responding to FOI requests within the statutory time limit of 20 working days is basic to delivering transparent and open government,” said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.

“While extensions may sometimes be justifiable for particularly complex requests, these three authorities have been selected for monitoring after serious shortcomings were identified in the time each of them has been taking to respond to FOI requests,” Graham added.

The commissioner says it’s particularly disappointing to see that the Cabinet Office is once again being monitored. The Cabinet Office was under supervision three years ago over the timeliness of FOI responses.

At the time, it had made some improvements, but apparently, the organization has failed to maintain them.

“Their inclusion on the latest monitoring list should act as a warning to others that lessons learnt from monitoring have to be sustained,” the commissioner said.

In 2013, the ICO monitored the Metropolitan Police Service, the London Borough of Barnet, the Manchester City Council, the Home Office, the South Tyneside Council and Sussex Police.

The Home Office and the MPS haven’t done so well. The Home Office is being monitored for an additional three months after failing to achieve satisfactory levels of performance during its previous monitoring period (July-September 2013).

The ICO is currently trying to decide whether or not to extend the Metropolitan Police’s monitoring period for the second time.

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