FOI reference: FOI/18/02098 Review
Date received: 24 October 2018
Date responded: 14 December 2018
Further to my letter of 29th October 2018 I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for a list of the risks included in the Programme Risks Register Artefacts papers submitted to the Social Security Programme Board since September 2017. You also requested: the number of those risks which appear under each risk category, as well as those categories and how many risks have been regarded as tolerable, treat, transfer and terminate.
As per the original response a summary of risk categories and the number of risks in each category was provided. I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with a modification. Please find enclosed redacted Risk Register Artefacts submitted to the Social Security Programme Board in the applicable time period.
The exemptions applied under sections s.30(b)(i) and s.30(b)(ii) of FOISA in the original response do apply.
Section 30(b)(i) applies where disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. Section 30(b)(ii) applies where disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. As per the original response the Risk Register Artefacts are used to enable the free and frank provision of advice for critical discussions which include the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation to aid decision making. Releasing details of Programme risks would, or would be likely to, cause substantial inhibition to free and frank exchange of views by suppressing the freedom with which opinions or options are expressed.
A further exemption under S.30(c) also applies to this request for information. Section 30(c) exempts information from disclosure where disclosure would, or would be likely to, cause substantial harm to the effective conduct of public affairs. The analysis of the actions to be taken in order to manage a risk contribute significantly to the effective conduct of public affairs. Disclosure would have the effect of impinging on the honest assessment of which mitigations should be taken in order to manage a risk and therefore the risk would not be managed as effectively as possible.
As the exemptions are conditional, I have reapplied the ‘public interest test’. This means I have, in all the circumstances of this case, reconsidered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. I agree that the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. While I recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate, this is outweighed by the vital public interest in ensuring that Social Security Programme Board meetings lead to high quality, fully considered decision making. Ministers and officials need to have a private space within which to consider the evidence, debate their findings, and explore all available options before reaching settled policy decisions.
Furthermore, I have also applied the exemption noted under 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) to some of the information requested. The information relating to personal data of junior staff disclosure would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses