- 30 Apr 2019
Date received: 3 Apr 2019
Date responded: 24 Apr 2019
You requested the Programme Risks Register Artefact papers submitted to the Social Security Programme Board since November 2018.
I have now completed my review of your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the Programme Risks Register Artefacts papers submitted to the Social Security Programme Board since November 2018.
Please find enclosed redacted Risk Register Artefacts submitted to the Social Security Programme Board in the applicable time period. Exemptions have been applied to some of the information requested under sections s.30(b)(i), s.30(b)(ii), s.30(c) and s.38(1)(b) of FOISA.
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. The assessment of risks detailed in Risk Register Artefacts constitutes subjective views to dictate risk prioritisation and subsequent mitigating action. This information therefore forms the basis for the free and frank provision of advice for critical discussions and decision making. Consequently, releasing such details related to 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 which risks affect a policy area contribute significantly to the effective conduct of public affairs, by making public authorities better able to avoid situations which would disrupt or harm their operations. For risk registers to be effective, they must be based on an honest assessment of the challenges faced by an organisation and how they can be overcome. Disclosure would have the effect of undermining the effective operation of the Social Security Directorate as it would impact upon the readiness of officials to provide honest formulation of what risks entail and as a result find effective solutions to mitigate programme risks.
As the exemptions are conditional, I have applied the ‘public interest test’. This means I have, in all the circumstances of this case, considered 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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House