Free re-use of public sector data

Information collected by public sector bodies in the course of the work, including those available under freedom of information leg should be available for free re-use by the public and organisations..

Why is this idea important?

Information collected by public sector bodies in the course of the work, including those available under freedom of information leg should be available for free re-use by the public and organisations..

Scrap Freedom of Information Laws

The requirements and obligations of the Fredom of Information Act are too onerous in terms of management time on large Public organisations. The requirement to respond within a specified period to all manner of meaningless requests is ridiculous.

Any public body should be required to make bugetary/expenses information publically available but that should be the extent of their obligations.

Why is this idea important?

The requirements and obligations of the Fredom of Information Act are too onerous in terms of management time on large Public organisations. The requirement to respond within a specified period to all manner of meaningless requests is ridiculous.

Any public body should be required to make bugetary/expenses information publically available but that should be the extent of their obligations.

Freedom of Information requests

 

A number of Freedom of information requests have been turned down because the information also contains personal information on a 3rd party.       

A simple solution would be to redact any personal information with a black magic marker.   Thereby allowing information to be obtained by anyone. 

The Freedom of Information act should be amended to allow for this, and stop the withholding of publicly owned information.

Why is this idea important?

 

A number of Freedom of information requests have been turned down because the information also contains personal information on a 3rd party.       

A simple solution would be to redact any personal information with a black magic marker.   Thereby allowing information to be obtained by anyone. 

The Freedom of Information act should be amended to allow for this, and stop the withholding of publicly owned information.

Freedom of Information

Preventy frivolous and malicious enquiries, patrtiularly when press is using FOI as search weapoon with no clear cut agenda. ALL enquiries should be charged to the enquirer rather than limiting charging as at present

Why is this idea important?

Preventy frivolous and malicious enquiries, patrtiularly when press is using FOI as search weapoon with no clear cut agenda. ALL enquiries should be charged to the enquirer rather than limiting charging as at present

Freedom of Information Act

Don't get me wrong – I'm not against freedom of information and I do believe the Freedom of Information Act is there for good reasons.  Without it we wouldn't have known about MPs expenses.  However, the Act needs to be looked at for two good reasons:

1. What it costs the public sector.

2. Unintended consequences.

Let's start with the costs.  In the NHS alone, there will be at least one, if not more, staff administering Freedom of Information and many more collecting responses in every NHS organisation – that's 1000s of staff in total country-wide.  If you add central government, local government and quangos, that's 1000s more.  We're talking tens, possibly hundreds, of millions of pounds nationally being spent answering questions from – mainly – lazy journalists and MPs' researchers.

As far as the unintended consequences go, just think about it.  How many more senior public sector executives are now using their procurement departments to book flights, hotels, rail journeys, taxis, working lunches etc. rather than filling in an expense form so that when a Freedom of Information request comes in their record looks squeaky clean?  And what about minutes of meetings, will they become briefer and blander to avoid the airing of contentious discussions to a potentially hostile press and public.  The more FOI-savvy the public sector becomes, the more ways it will find to become less open and transparent. 

The solution would be not to scrap the Act – it has achieved some good things – but to firstly state up front what must be placed in the public domain.  That would include salaries of all senior staff and their expenses and unredacted minutes of all public meetings.  Secondly, to levy a minimum charge for all requests under the Freedom of Information Act to deter time-wasters.  Thirdly, to allow the public sector organisation to state in its response how much it cost the organisation to respond to the question and to require it to report in its Annual Report how much the Freedom of Information Act costs it to administer per annum.

Why is this idea important?

Don't get me wrong – I'm not against freedom of information and I do believe the Freedom of Information Act is there for good reasons.  Without it we wouldn't have known about MPs expenses.  However, the Act needs to be looked at for two good reasons:

1. What it costs the public sector.

2. Unintended consequences.

Let's start with the costs.  In the NHS alone, there will be at least one, if not more, staff administering Freedom of Information and many more collecting responses in every NHS organisation – that's 1000s of staff in total country-wide.  If you add central government, local government and quangos, that's 1000s more.  We're talking tens, possibly hundreds, of millions of pounds nationally being spent answering questions from – mainly – lazy journalists and MPs' researchers.

As far as the unintended consequences go, just think about it.  How many more senior public sector executives are now using their procurement departments to book flights, hotels, rail journeys, taxis, working lunches etc. rather than filling in an expense form so that when a Freedom of Information request comes in their record looks squeaky clean?  And what about minutes of meetings, will they become briefer and blander to avoid the airing of contentious discussions to a potentially hostile press and public.  The more FOI-savvy the public sector becomes, the more ways it will find to become less open and transparent. 

The solution would be not to scrap the Act – it has achieved some good things – but to firstly state up front what must be placed in the public domain.  That would include salaries of all senior staff and their expenses and unredacted minutes of all public meetings.  Secondly, to levy a minimum charge for all requests under the Freedom of Information Act to deter time-wasters.  Thirdly, to allow the public sector organisation to state in its response how much it cost the organisation to respond to the question and to require it to report in its Annual Report how much the Freedom of Information Act costs it to administer per annum.

Repealing unnecessary restrictions set out in Section 1 of the FOI Act

I wish to ask the coalition government to reconsider Section 1 of the FOI Act, and designate all 39 of the NDCs set up by the previous government's DCLG, 'public authorities' for this purpose and add them all to Schedule 1 of the FOI Act.

The coalition government could perhaps go even further by making all organisations spending public money subject the FOI Act.

Why is this idea important?

I wish to ask the coalition government to reconsider Section 1 of the FOI Act, and designate all 39 of the NDCs set up by the previous government's DCLG, 'public authorities' for this purpose and add them all to Schedule 1 of the FOI Act.

The coalition government could perhaps go even further by making all organisations spending public money subject the FOI Act.

include academies in freedom of information

Academies are not public authorities and so are exempt from freedom of information. I propose that academies should be subject to the same law as public authorities.

Why is this idea important?

Academies are not public authorities and so are exempt from freedom of information. I propose that academies should be subject to the same law as public authorities.

Freedom of Information Act has too many exemptions

We've all seen the benefit of the act in curtailing some of the more ludicrous excesses of MP's. It is however still far too easy for some to shelter under exemptions it's impossible to circumvent. It's time to grant greater freedom to the Act in reward for its spectacular success.

Why is this idea important?

We've all seen the benefit of the act in curtailing some of the more ludicrous excesses of MP's. It is however still far too easy for some to shelter under exemptions it's impossible to circumvent. It's time to grant greater freedom to the Act in reward for its spectacular success.

Remove restrictions on freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act has numerous restrictions and exceptions, unnecessarily complicating the law while severely limiting the citizen's right to know what Government is up to.  Those restrictions and exceptions should be swept away.

Why is this idea important?

The Freedom of Information Act has numerous restrictions and exceptions, unnecessarily complicating the law while severely limiting the citizen's right to know what Government is up to.  Those restrictions and exceptions should be swept away.

make publicly companies subject to the Freedom of Information Act

Make all companies owned 90 per cent. or more by any number of public authorities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

There is a major loophole in the UK’s Freedom of Information Act which means that a company wholly owned by one local authority is subject to the Act but a company owned by two local authorities is not. Currently a company owned 95% or even 99.5% by a single public authority is not subject to the provisions of the act, as only companies owned 100% by a single authority are currently covered.  This just does not make any sense.

I propose closing this loophole to make publicly owned companies accountable to the public.

Why is this idea important?

Make all companies owned 90 per cent. or more by any number of public authorities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

There is a major loophole in the UK’s Freedom of Information Act which means that a company wholly owned by one local authority is subject to the Act but a company owned by two local authorities is not. Currently a company owned 95% or even 99.5% by a single public authority is not subject to the provisions of the act, as only companies owned 100% by a single authority are currently covered.  This just does not make any sense.

I propose closing this loophole to make publicly owned companies accountable to the public.

Freedom of Information

Allow public authorities to charge to respond to freedom of information request in the same way as they can for Environment Information Regulations 2000.  At the same time increase what public authorities should publish, contracts, pay, etc.

Any charge should be reasonable but should reflect what answering any request costs.  Public authorities should have the discretion to waive costs.

Why is this idea important?

Allow public authorities to charge to respond to freedom of information request in the same way as they can for Environment Information Regulations 2000.  At the same time increase what public authorities should publish, contracts, pay, etc.

Any charge should be reasonable but should reflect what answering any request costs.  Public authorities should have the discretion to waive costs.

Amend Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations Regulations 2010

I suggest the repeal of Regulation 19 of the Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations Regulations 2010 (RPROR).  This prevents rail complaint bodies, such as the Office of Rail Regulation, from releasing information about any complaints against rail companies resulting from RPROR, or any enforcement measures taken, without first getting permission from the company in question. There is a hefty maximum £5,000 fine and/or a 2 year prison term for those breaching this regulation. It's worth noting that there is no clause in the underlying European legislation which has prompted this regulation restricting information publication.

Why is this idea important?

I suggest the repeal of Regulation 19 of the Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations Regulations 2010 (RPROR).  This prevents rail complaint bodies, such as the Office of Rail Regulation, from releasing information about any complaints against rail companies resulting from RPROR, or any enforcement measures taken, without first getting permission from the company in question. There is a hefty maximum £5,000 fine and/or a 2 year prison term for those breaching this regulation. It's worth noting that there is no clause in the underlying European legislation which has prompted this regulation restricting information publication.

Repeal the Freedom of Information (Parliament and National Assembly for Wales) Order 2008

The government should legislate to repeal the Freedom of Information (Parliament and National Assembly for Wales) Order 2008 (SI 2008 No. 1967).

Why is this idea important?

The government should legislate to repeal the Freedom of Information (Parliament and National Assembly for Wales) Order 2008 (SI 2008 No. 1967).

Amend the Freedom of Information Act

Amend the Freedom of Information (FOI) act so the requestor of the information must bear some of the cost and inconvenience in requesting this information and justify why they want it.

Why is this idea important?

Amend the Freedom of Information (FOI) act so the requestor of the information must bear some of the cost and inconvenience in requesting this information and justify why they want it.

Freedom of Information Act

There are currently about 20 classes of exclusion in the Freedom of Information Act.  These range from national security, to commercial confidentiality, to excessive expense.  These classes of exclusion are far too widely drawn, and the exclusions should be reduced substantially.

Why is this idea important?

There are currently about 20 classes of exclusion in the Freedom of Information Act.  These range from national security, to commercial confidentiality, to excessive expense.  These classes of exclusion are far too widely drawn, and the exclusions should be reduced substantially.