Information request handling: annual report 2017

2017 Annual Report on the handling of information requests made to the Scottish Government under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Requests for information


The Scottish Government is committed to Freedom of Information as an essential part of open, democratic government and responsive public services. Furthermore, we proactively publish as much information as possible via our website without it having to be requested.

You can find out more about the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, including how to request information from the Scottish Government, from the FOI section of our website.

Developments in 2017

in early 2017 the Scottish Information Commissioner began an independent assessment of the Government’s performance against a set of targets. This has involved the Commissioner’s Office monitoring, on a monthly basis, the Scottish Government’s performance.

In addition to the summary below, you can find out more about our performance and response times for handling Freedom of Information requests in the FOI Reporting section of our website.

In July 2017, we began to publish the information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses in the Publications section of our website.

Number of requests received

The Scottish Government received 3,050 requests for information in 2017. 2,527 requests were handled under FOISA, 522 were handled under the EIRs and 1 request was handled under both FOISA and the EIRs as it requested both environmental and non-environmental information. 

Requests are answered by the business area responsible for the subject matter of the request. Details about the functions of the Scottish Government are available on the About the Scottish Government section of our website.

Requests Total
Director-General Constitution and External Affairs 406
Director-General Economy 1,069
Director-General Education, Communities and Justice 718
Director-General Health & Social Care 190
Director-General Organisational Development and Operations 321
Director-General Scottish Exchequer 118
Ministerial Private Offices 228
Total 3,050

The number of requests received averaged 254 per month with actual figures ranging from 151 requests in December to 418 requests in October.

Composition of applicants

42% of all requests received in 2017 were from members of the public.

Pie Chart: Composition of applicants


The majority (83%) of requests for information received by us were processed on time in 2017, i.e. within 20 working days of receipt of the request. Of the 3,050 requests received in 2017, 2,441 were answered on time, 486 were late, 120 were withdrawn and 3 were not proceeded with after clarification was requested.

Requests On Time % Late % Total
Director-General Constitution and External Affairs 344 87 53 13 397
Director-General Economy 851 84 167 16 1,018
Director-General Education, Communities
and Justice
602 86 94 14 696
Director-General Health & Social Care 114 63 66 37 180
Director-General Organisational Development
and Operations
266 87 39 13 305
Director-General Scottish Exchequer 107 95 6 5 113
Ministerial Private Offices 157 72 61 28 218
Total 2,441 83 486 17 2,927

Outcome of requests

During 2017 the Scottish Government released information in full or in part in response to 83% of requests where information was held. 

It is not always appropriate for us to release information. Information can be withheld from an applicant on the basis of one or more of the exemptions or exceptions laid down in FOISA or the EIRs. In such cases, we will fully explain to an applicant why we are unable to provide the information, for example, for reasons of confidentiality or because it is personal data. 

In the majority of cases where we were unable to provide some or all information in response to a request received in 2017, this was because:

  • We did not have the requested information (691 requests), or
  • The information was personal data of a third party (248 requests)



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