Model Publication Scheme Monitoring Report 2016
Freedom of information (FOI) law requires public authorities to publish information about their work under categories specified by the Scottish Information Commissioner - this is their publication scheme duty.
Earlier this year this office commissioned Craigforth, a social research company, to carry out a "mystery shopping" exercise with 70 public authorities covered by FOI.
The researchers found that, while 94% of public bodies had an online "Guide to Information" to help people access published information:
- Only 41% published adequate information on procurement and contracts
- Only 46% published adequate information on spending and salaries
- 20% of email and 21% of telephone requests for assistance were not responded to.
Full Report and Data:
Model Publication Scheme Monitoring Report (PDF - 626kB)
Model Publication Scheme Monitoring Report (Word - 178kB)
Model Publication Scheme Monitoring - Raw Data (Excel - 69kB)
In response to the findings, the Commissioner encourages public authorities to :
- Publish more information online and in different formats
- Provide direct links to information in their Guides to Information
- Use plain language to help the public find information
- Provide advice and assistance as part of good customer service.
The Commissioner's view
Responding to Craigforth's findings, Commissioner Rosemary Agnew said:
"I wanted this research to replicate as far as possible the experience of the average person trying to find information about public authorities. While Craigforth are experienced researchers, they are not FOI experts and that was important.
"The findings were mixed. It's very positive to confirm that the overwhelming majority of authorities publish easily accessible guides to the information they make available. But it's disappointing to learn that such important information on spending and procurement too often could not be found. It is also unacceptable that around one in five requests for help went unanswered.
"Freedom of information requires authorities to publish information, and to help anyone who wants to access it. Easy access to information is fundamental to citizen engagement. It is also an important part of establishing a relationship of trust and accountability, without which confidence in public services is undermined."
What's your view?
What do you think of the research findings? Do they reflect your own experiences? Are there ways in which access to published information might be improved?
Whatever your view, whatever your experience, we'd like to hear about it. Contact us and let us know what you think.
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