Publication - FOI/EIR release

FOI requests during 2018 and organisations: FOI release

Published: 8 Oct 2019

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

Published:
8 Oct 2019
FOI requests during 2018 and organisations: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/201900004261
Date received: 18 Sep 2019
Date responded: 8 Oct 2019
Information requested

You asked for "I would like to establish the volume of FOI Requests during 2018 and the source company, individual (if public record) or organisation of each request. Could this be provided in an Excel format?

Related to this, I would like the Scottish Government to advise of the estimated cost of the resources to handle FOI Requests during 2018 and the total estimated cost of the resource. If the detail for this is unavailable due to Minister's involvement, the total cost for the department who handle FOI Requests would be acceptable."

Response

Q1.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested in the attached Excel Spreadsheet "Volume of FOI Cases 2018."

It may assist if I explain that in 2018, the Scottish Government used two corporate systems to manage FOI requests, the FOI tracker and MiCase (which is replacing the tracker). On both systems, when a case handler registers a request, the name of the requesting organisation is input into a free text field.

An organisation’s name may have a number of variations as a result. There have been instances of this when capturing the data and we have attempted to amalgamate these as much as possible. The 8 cases identified on MiCase were all recorded as being from individuals.

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 an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below/in the Annex to this letter.

Q2(a).
Whilst our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold the information you have requested.

This is because the work required to prepare responses to FOI requests received by the Scottish Government is undertaken by officials across the Scottish Government as part of their wider duties. The amount of time spent on preparing responses is not routinely recorded, as there is no business need to do so.

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

Q2(b).
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold the information you have requested.

This is because there is no single department that handles FOI requests as the Scottish Government operates a devolved model for FOI handling. When an FOI is received into the Scottish Government, it is assigned to a policy expert within the relevant policy area. That case handler may seek advice and input from colleagues to progress the FOI until it is issued, including from staff in the FOI Unit. We do not employ staff whose sole duties are to reply to FOI requests, nor do we routinely record the numbers of staff attending to certain FOI requests. Accordingly, we do not hold information about the total cost of the department that handles FOI requests because there is no such department.

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

Information provided out with FOISA
Given your interest in the cost of handling FOI requests in the Scottish Government, you may be interested to know that the Scottish Government did undertake research in 2012 which sought to ascertain the ‘cost’ of responding to a request in terms of staff time. At that time this was estimated to be an annualised cost of £216. The full research report can be accessed by following the link: https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20170701145354/http:/www.gov.scot/About/Information/FOI/Reporting/CostingExercise2012

Allowing for adjustments for inflation we now estimate this cost to be around £234 (adjusted in December 2018).

Reasons for not providing information - Annex
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. The exemption applies because it is the personal data of third parties and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 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.

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