- 6 Feb 2019
Date received: 18 Dec 2018
Date responded: 30 Jan 2019
You asked for the Programme Risks Register Artefacts papers submitted to the Social Security Programme Board since July 2018.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views), section 30(c) of FOISA (otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs), and section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. 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. 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) of FOISA 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.
These exemptions are 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 Ministers and officials a private space within which to explore and refine the Government’s position on Social Security until the Government as a whole can adopt a position that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, 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.
A further exemption under 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) also applies to this request for information. 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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House