Publication - FOI/EIR release

Communication questions regarding Scottish Government: FOI release

Published: 6 Mar 2020

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
6 Mar 2020
Communication questions regarding Scottish Government: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000016119
Date received: 13 Feb 2020
Date responded: 6 Mar 2020
Information requested

1. Is the person answering this pro or anti Scottish Independence? (I have purposely not asked any PII that risks avoidance of this question)

2. How many people are tasked with the responsibility of answering FOI requests sent to ceu@gov.scot ?

3. Who can I write to and communicate with regarding content on Scot.gov and any other print and digital media produced by the Scottish govt for the benefit of relaying facts to the people of Scotland?

4. Does the Scottish govt directly or indirectly (e.g. through scot.gov) hire any editors, journalists or suchlike to collate facts into easy to digest print and digital media? (in the same manner as all the UK govt websites collate a mixture of facts and debunked inaccuracies)

a. How can I communicate directly with this person or people if different than Question 3?

5. What is the process for independently created reports and other material that collates facts and figures to be published on scot.gov and other govt websites for the benefit of delivering clear, concise and easy to digest factually based information to the Scottish people?

6. How do I arrange a phone interview with a manager or other authority in charge of media publications by the Scottish govt to be able to have a 20 to 30 min Question and answer session?

7. What is the typical waiting period to be able to have this 20 to 30 min Question and answer session?

8. Can I get a list of all public positions portrayed to the Scottish public as ‘Scottish’ or using the word ‘Scottish’ in the job title that are actually positions based in England; or positions based in Scotland that are created by mandate from the UK or English Govts?

Response

Please find answers to each of your questions below:

1. Is the person answering this pro or anti Scottish Independence? (I have purposely not asked any PII that risks avoidance of this question)

The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because it does not routinely record the political viewpoints of civil servants. You are entitled to be given information held by the Scottish Government at the time when you made your request, but the Scottish Government has no duty to obtain information which it does not hold in order to answer your request. Additionally, the civil servant responding to this request is not obliged to provide this information in order to answer your question.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

It may also be helpful if I explain that civil servants must adhere to the Civil Service Code which requires civil servants to operate with political impartiality. You can read the Civil Service Code here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/civil-service-code/

2. How many people are tasked with the responsibility of answering FOI requests sent to ceu@gov.scot?

Requests received through ceu@gov.scot (or any other route) are generally handled by staff in the Directorate with responsibility for the information requested. Requests are directly handled by designated case handlers of which there are 241 identified across the Scottish Government at the point you made your request. This figure does not include case handlers in executive agencies.

There is also a central FOI Unit that plays a role in monitoring and providing advice about case handling. The FOI Unit consists of 15 staff.

However, while the designated case handlers take responsibility for managing the process, all Scottish Government staff have a responsibility to search for, collate and provide information in support of responding to the request as required.

3. Who can I write to and communicate with regarding content on Scot.gov and any other print and digital media produced by the Scottish govt for the benefit of relaying facts to the people of Scotland?

There is no single point of contact for all print and digital media productsand content on gov.scot originates from across the organisation and portfolios. Queries about specific content or media can be directed to the Central Enquiries Unit (ceu@gov.scot) and will then be directed to the most appropriate part of the Scottish Government.

4. Does the Scottish govt directly or indirectly (e.g. through scot.gov) hire any editors, journalists or suchlike to collate facts into easy to digest print and digital media? (in the same manner as all the UK govt websites collate a mixture of facts and debunked inaccuracies)

Yes. Content Managers, who are civil servants, provide editorial support for publishing certain content to gov.scot, and they work to ensure information is user focussed. There will be colleagues across the organisation who are working on content in various ways who generate large volumes of information.

a. How can I communicate directly with this person or people if different than Question 3?

As with question 3, specific queries can be directed through Central Enquiries Unit (ceu@gov.scot) and will then be directed to the most appropriate part of the Scottish Government.

5. What is the process for independently created reports and other material that collates facts and figures to be published on scot.gov and other govt websites for the benefit of delivering clear, concise and easy to digest factually based information to the Scottish people?

The Scottish Government does not routinely publish independently created reports, although if we commission independent research, the resulting report would be subject to the same processes as all other Scottish Government publications. The Scottish Government uses a Publishing, Print and Design framework as the main route through which reports are published. You can find details of the publication framework here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/publishing-print-design-framework/. Through the framework, reports are made suitable for publication on gov.scot.

6. How do I arrange a phone interview with a manager or other authority in charge of media publications by the Scottish govt to be able to have a 20 to 30 min Question and answer session?

The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because no specific process exists. No one part of the Scottish Government retains ownership of media publications (policy areas will often take ownership of this process themselves). This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

If you have a query about a specific publication then you could route this through Central Enquiries Unit who will direct it to the appropriate policy area.

7. What is the typical waiting period to be able to have this 20 to 30 min Question and answer session?

The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because no specific process exists and therefore no record is held of a typical wait time. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

8. Can I get a list of all public positions portrayed to the Scottish public as ‘Scottish’ or using the word ‘Scottish’ in the job title that are actually positions based in England; or positions based in Scotland that are created by mandate from the UK or English Govts?

It may be helpful if I split the question into three parts. In answer to part one, which relates to how many public positions are portrayed as “Scottish,” the Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for. This is because the Scottish Government does not record posts in this way, nor, with the exception of our staff in Scotland House, London, do we have positions based in England. As a result, it would require the Scottish Government to work through all public positions and make a value judgement or interpretation on how they are portrayed. As this is both subjective and as of now unrecorded, we are not required to create this information in response to your request. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

In answer to part two, which relates to jobs that contain “Scottish” in the job title but are actually based in England, there is one position in the staff directory. This is the Head of the Scottish Government Office based in London. This is a Scottish Government position and does not answer to the UK Government.

In answer to part three, which relates to positions based in Scotland that are created by mandate from the UK Government, this is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. You may wish to submit a request to the Cabinet Office or the Scotland Office for details of any public positions portrayed to the Scottish public as ‘Scottish’ or using the word ‘Scottish’ in the title which are based in Scotland and made by the UK Government. These are distinct public authorities and are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which relates to UK Government Departments. Their contact details are publiccorrespondence@cabinetoffice.gov.uk and foi@scotlandoffice.gsi.gov.uk respectively.

About FOI
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.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG