The UK's data protection and Freedom of Information watchdog has launched a new consultation with a view to changing its guidance on what information public sector organisations should be forced to disclose and how. Under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws public authorities must "adopt and maintain" a scheme of publishing …
Well, we've seen cases where public bodies (local councils in particular) have complied with FOI requests by obfuscating or being choosy about what they disclose.
For example, I seem to recall in the wake of the snow everywhere, FOI requests were made to some councils about the amount of money spent on grit etc., and that certain councils were cagey about it, making sure to classify funds in specific ways to get round the terms of the FOI.
Seems to me that we need more control on this kind of thing, because transparency is all well and good but you need the public bodies to actually be *transparent* rather than coating everything with a rose tinted lens and calling it transparent.
Half the problem, it seems to me
ia thst no-one knows what "public interest" means... unless of course you're a tabloid reporter who thinks it means "anything enough of the public might be persuaded to buy a newspaper for...
The point about balancing personal privacy is well made, but its only one of many...
Is it, for example, in our interests as taxpayers to have yet another layer of bureaucrats doing nothing but managing FOI requests - I suggest probably not. Certainly not in our interests for councils to sack fireman, rubbish collectors and librarians in order to recruit Freedom of Information Officers, but that's already happening...
Probably not in our interests to release every little detail of procurement tenders if it helps contractors game the system to charge even more.. On the other hand it probably is in our interests to have salary scales (and "bonus/expenses levels) released so that you can see to what extent the damn executives are continually escalating their salaries whilst leaving the people who actually do the work with frozen wages or worse...
I have no doubt a lot of posters will disagree with you. All the journos want their free stories and want the public sector workers to do their work for them.
Simple solution. Charge for FOI requests. If a story is good enough it's worth paying to research for it. This won't happen because our politicians are still obedianet to their policitcal masters in the media.
Still the millions that would be brought to the exchequer could help pay for nurses medicines etc.
FOI requests are not necessarily free; a charge of up to £10 may be charged for administrative costs - and that's wired into the legislature, AFAIK.
Personally, I think raising the cap to £25 or £30 is not unreasonable - provided that the information disclosed isn't 'massaged'.
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