back to article Information watchdog raps Government over access to data

The Department of Health is not dealing with freedom of information (FOI) requests properly because of a lack of staff, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said. The ICO has rebuked the Government department over its FOI behaviour. The Department of Health (DoH) has failed to offer people seeking information the …

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Cynical naivety

"Not enough staff are trained to deal with FOI requests"? What utter tosh. An FOI request is nothing more than a question. When you get a question, you either answer it, or explain why you can't answer it, which FOI recipients are allowed to do, in far too many cases as it happens. It does not need to be trained, it is a basic human social skill you learn as a toddler.

Freedom of information is anathema to government; the DoH is not dealing with FOI requests because the more well-informed people are about government activity, the angrier they get about it. I thought the ICO was being naive in its failure to recognise this basic, simple truth (I think it was the subject of the very first episode of Yes Minister), but then I read this bit:

"While the commissioner has no doubt that pockets of expertise in the area of freedom of information exist within the department, he is concerned that current levels of resource may not support the volume of requests and reviews received. He therefore recommends that the department review existing levels of resource for FOI and the deployment of that resource."

Now I get it. "We know you don't like FOI requests, but what if you were allowed to take on more staff on the basis of our recommendation? You get to further the building of your bureaucratic empires, a few hundred windows get broken and rebuilt, er, that is, a few hundred jobs get created, and in return you throw us the occasional bone." Not naivety, but cynical favour trading.

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Black Helicopters

watchin u watch the watchers

Britain needs to re-assert protection of information and strengthen access to information using the same means; an entirely auditable national open-source depository.

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