Monday, 19 December 2011

How Much Does Freedom of Information Cost 2

One thing that has been popping up in NCC's FoI responses is little passive aggressive notes at the end such as this one I got with the request featured in the previous post-

"You may be interested to know that responding to the questions you have raised in the enquiry has cost the Authority approximately £102.35.

I may indeed be interested to know that. Alternatively, I may not give a shiny shit. I can only assume that this is designed to make you feel bad about rattling their cage. I wonder if social workers give child abusers notes telling them their visit cost £128.50, or maybe bin men will soon be leaving a little sticker on your bin with a breakdown of the cost of carting your crap away.

I don't know if the same method is used to calculate the numbers as that used by JoCo in his occasional outbursts but, if I can help, I'd recommend that costs could be significantly reduced by reducing the number of people signing off each response, leaving aside the obsessive secrecy requiring legal services to turn ever more complex legal somersaults and stop that silly trick of ignoring requests until the Information Commissioner finally orders them to respond.

This advice is a service I provide you know. For free.


FitForNothing said...

I would imagine the true cost to the council is technically zero.

An existing employee would have sourced the answers to your question as part of the job that they are being paid to do.

The council may employ staff purely for FOI requests. In which case requests such as yours are needed to justify these posts and keep these people in their jobs.

We could all start putting on our work how much it has cost to produce but we'd just be laughed at...

Andy said...

To be fair there is a real cost. Even if it is simply an existing employee digging the info out it's time taken that could have been spent doing something else and, as they say, time is money.

But you're right we could all start labeling our tasks with how much it cost to do it. The issue here is why NCC does it only with Freedom of Info responses and not with social worker visits like I mentioned in the post.