Publication - FOI/EIR release

Government communications during lockdown: FOI release

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

Published:
2 Jul 2021
Government communications during lockdown: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000068466
Date received: 30 Jul 2020
Date responded: 1 Jul 2021
Information requested

1. For the period of lockdown (between March 23rd – 4th July), please answer the following questions regarding the staff in (XXXX government department) – if a question isn’t possible to answer in the time allowed, please let us know:

a) What is the total number of civil servants (excluding third party contractors such as cleaners, security etc) in the department?
b) Of the department staff whose roles could have been performed from home – i.e. who did not have to be in the office in order to perform their jobs AND would not usually be expected to travel for work – how many couldn’t work from home during lockdown due to device or connectivity issues (such as insufficient or unreliable broadband connectivity at home, or not having access to a suitable laptop or smartphone)?
c) How many department staff were put on furlough for some or all of the lockdown period?
d) How many staff could not perform their roles from home and so had to come into their regular workplace during lockdown?
e) How many staff were able to work from home during lockdown?
f) How many staff were restricted from full activities due to home devices not being capable of accessing secure information (such as information classified ‘Official Sensitive’, ‘Secret’ and ‘Above Secret’)?

2. The next questions relate to IT spending:
a) What was the department’s budgeted IT spend for the last tax year (April 2019 - April 2020)
b) How much was spent to get people online between March 23rd 2020 - July 4th 2020?
c) Did the department have to request extra budget in order to respond to Covid-19?
d) If possible, how much extra budget did the department have to request?
e) If possible, how much was spent per person on internet and connectivity?

 

3. Out of the following services, please let us know: i) which (if any) were used by staff who were working from home, and which (if any) staff were not permitted to use due to security concerns.
a) Zoom
b) Skype
c) Microsoft Teams
d) BlueJeans
e) WebEx
f) Google Hangouts
g) Were any other technologies used not listed above

4. For the same period as the other questions (i.e. March 23rd 202 – July 4th 2020), was the department’s minister ever unable to join meetings, virtual parliament or select committees as a result of technical issues such as device or connectivity problems? If yes please specify the number of occurrences.

 

5. If possible, how often did employees in your department experience the following during the lockdown (between March 23rd – 4th July) which affected their ability to communicate:
a) Connectivity failures that meant staff couldn’t communicate
b) Slow connection speeds
c) Lack of appropriate equipment where people were working – e.g suitable laptops or smartphones for secure video calls, or fast enough home broadband
d) Broader communications outages e.g. the virgin media outage on June 25th

Response

1. a) This information is available at the following using the following link: https://www.gov.scot/publications/workforce-information/
b) This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
c) No Scottish Government staff have been furloughed.
d) This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
e) This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
f) This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

2.  a) This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
There are a number of business areas who provide IT Services across the organisation for both the organisation and for public facing service. The IT budget allocation which was fully spent, for the period requested, for Information and Technology Services Division within the was £9,914,883 Resource funding and £2,836,900 Capital.
b) No additional funding was required beyond the normal spend as per normal business operations. 
c) No additional budget was required.
d) No additional budget was requested.
e) This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

3. An extract of the guidance to staff on the use of conferencing tools is contained within the accompanying Annex. Please note however, for the period requested Microsoft Teams was not available for staff to use as an application as it was not deployed on devices at that time. You may also wish to be aware the use of the each individual service is not monitored to know how many times, if at all, it was used during the time frame you have requested. 

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

5. In relation to a, b and d, please note this is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested as this was not monitored on a individual basis. 
In relation to c, all staff were fully equipped with the technology required to fulfil their roles and where further equipment was required due to new or additional need, or to replace items that developed a fault, the local business area is responsible for submitting the appropriate request to secure what was needed. This information it not held centrally.

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.

FOI - 202000068466 - Annex

2 page PDF
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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