Publication - FOI/EIR release

Recruitment at the Scottish Social Security Agency: FOI release

Published: 14 May 2018

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

Published:
14 May 2018
Recruitment at the Scottish Social Security Agency: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01096
Date received: 9 April 2018
Date responded: 8 May 2018

Information requested

The business cases/documents explaining the reasons for the recruitment of temporary staff to the Scottish Social Security Agency, in particular, those listed here:

https://www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=APR315502

https://www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=APR315455

The information provided should detail the internal discussion about how the Scottish Government sought to fill these roles internally, through general external advertising, and explain why the posts are short term temporary roles.

Response

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.

Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the options and decisions about obtaining resources for individual posts within the Social Security Programme will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions may relate to sensitive matters regarding existing members of Scottish Government staff.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.

We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to other officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position about resourcing for the Social Security Programme This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken.

Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the documentation supporting decisions about how best to provide people resources to the Social Security Programme is disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

I can, however, provide the following information to you in response to your request:

The roles that you have requested information about are within the Social Security Directorate of the Scottish Government and not within the Social Security Agency.

Social Security Interim Agency Finance Team Leader Contract Ref APR315455

The information you requested is not held by the Scottish Government.

Social Security Agency - Enterprise Architect x 3 Contract Ref APR315502.

Records of the internal discussion about how the Scottish Government attempted to fill the roles internally or through general external advertising are not held.

The roles were considered to be interim professional contracts because the skills and experience required do not currently exist or are not readily available within the Scottish Government. The roles are of a specialist nature and require experience of Target Operating Model development for a large organisation and experience of deploying and using Enterprise Architecture methods and tools such as The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) or the Zachman Framework.

The roles are to be of limited duration because they will help development of the Target Operating Model(s) and Programme Blueprint for the new Agency. This work is time limited in line with the development of Social Security Scotland.

Of the three roles that were offered on this contract, one appointment was made.

Scottish Government Contracts for interim professional staff are let through an approved procurement framework, and information about this mechanism is already in the public domain and can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/Procurement/directory/ProfessionalServices/TempInterim

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 Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG