Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Technically True But...

At the 17 June meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Information Governance gave a presentation on their recent performance.

There were some slightly amusing claims such as -

" was known nationally that journalists were using the legislation to have their research done for them by local authorities..."

I think they're confusing themselves with Wikipedia there but more interestingly, there was this -

"...during the last two years, no decision notices, other than one in respect of a case dating back to 2005, had been issued by the Information Commissioner against the Council..."

Ignoring the fact that that does mean that there WAS a decision issued against them within the last two years, this ignores the fact that the ICO is trying to move away from formal decision notices to informal resolution. So the fact that they haven't had any formal decision notices against them is a form of sophistry designed to hide the fact that complainants have successfully taken cases to the Information Commissioner but the ICO has persuaded the council to back down at the last minute, on the basis that a formal decision against them often offends.

Take this example. Last year I put quite a lot of effort into chasing up the appalling success record of applications for Discretionary Housing Payments. This included Freedom of Information requests, appeals and the case going to the ICO. I eventually got the info but only after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and it appears to have been via an informal resolution.

Now I wasn't happy about this so I demanded that the ICO issued a formal decision because I am of the firm belief that councils and other large organisations do not learn unless they are named and shamed (hence the existence of this blog). This they agreed to do last October.

However, this obviously involves doing some work so I am still waiting. In the meantime as a result of this and presumably a number of other similar cases Information Governance can go and claim a pristine record to councillors.

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