Scottish Commissioner Studies Broader Coverage

3 October 2013

Scotland’s information commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, is exploring whether non-public bodies should be covered by the freedom of information law.

She also is making plans to publish detailed information about the performance of government agencies in handling requests for information.

Beginning next month, the commissioner will publish a compliance database concerning the number of requests made, the response times, the exemptions asserted, and how many requests released all the information asked for.

In an interview with The Scotsman, Agnew also said that she is looking at extending the FOI law to cover non-public sector bodies such as energy companies, financial institutions and transport companies.

“So for example energy, transport or even finance. It would be banks, insurance. We have tended to focus on public sector functions as they exist rather than think about the wider context of what would it mean for transparency.”

She added: “We are in our early days of looking at this, but it is something that is in our programme for the next year.”

The Scottish Information Commissioner’s 2012/13 annual report.shows a 14% rise in the number of appeals submitted to her office. Of these, (27% were because the public body involved did not respond to requests within 20 working days.

“Scottish public authorities that are falling short should take steps to address their performance as an immediate priority,” she was quoted as saying in The Courier.

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