Freedom of Information (FOI): A Useful Report

There is such widespread support for freedom of information (FOI) legislation that it is difficult to find good empirical perspectives on its operation and the benefits and problems associated with its management. For that reason, I was impressed with the recent report by Eleanor Burt and John Taylor to the Scottish Information Commissioner, entitled ‘The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002: New Modes of Information Management in Scottish Public Bodies?”, which was published on 28 September 2007. The problems identified include such issues as ensuring timely responses in the context of a often significant workload, managing ‘abuse of the Act’ such a frivolous requests, and dealing with requests in and about highly charged political issues. (More focus on the problems experienced by citizens would add much to this report, but that would have been a far larger project.) Successfully dealing with such problems must be critical to protecting the future of FOI, so I am hopeful that this report will help generate even further interest and research on the management of freedom of information functions in the public sector.

Click to access research_report_-_28_september_20072.pdf

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