Information

Vaccination status app: FOI release

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


Information requested

1. How much was paid for the creation of the Covid Status app?

2. Any reports produced during the testing of the app by the developer before it was released.

3. Correspondence sent to and from the Deputy First Minister, Health Secretary and First Minister regarding the app between Tuesday September 28 and Tuesday 5 October.

Response

Answer to Q1:
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. This is a matter for National Services Scotland (NSS) who are responsible for the day to day running and expenditure of the contractors appointed to create and develop the Covid Status App. However, you may wish to contact National Services Scotland (NSS) who may be able to help you.

This is a formal notice under section 25 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act that some of the information you have requested is available online. The cost for the development of the NHS Scotland Covid Status App, is covered by two contracts: Netcompany for app development, and Jumio for identity verification – both contracts are now in the public domain on Public Contracts Scotland. See View Notice - Public Contracts Scotland (Jumio) and View Notice - Public Contracts Scotland (Netcompany).

Answer to Q2:
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. This is a matter for National Services Scotland (NSS) who are responsible for the day to day running and expenditure of the contractors appointed to create and develop the Covid Status App. However, you may wish to contact National Services Scotland (NSS) who may be able to help you.

Answer to Q3:
Please find attached a separate attachment regarding the Ministerial correspondence you have requested that has been provided to answer this question.

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 s.38(1) (b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. 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.

Exemptions under sections 30(b) (i) and 30(b) (ii) of FOISA (free and frank advice and exchange of views) apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would,
or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. These exemptions recognise the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore sensitive or complex issues. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions and briefing material in relation to the development of the NHS
Scotland Covid Status app would be likely to substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly where such advice and discussion relates to issues that may be pertinent to the future development and use of the app.

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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 providing Ministers and officials a private space within which to discuss sensitive or complex issues, in relation to matters of ongoing relevance to the development and use of the NHS Scotland Covid Status app. This private space is essential to ensure that Ministers and senior officials are properly informed, so that robust decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process. This would not be in the public interest.

An exemption under section 29(1) (b) of FOISA (Ministerial communications) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to communications between Scottish Ministers. 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 Ministers a private space within which policy positions can be explored and refined, until the Government as a whole can reach a position that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process.

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested.

This exemption applies because revealing the source of the Scottish Government’s legal advice on the development and use of the NHS Scotland Covid Status App, would be likely to lead to conclusions being drawn from the fact that any particular lawyer has, or has not, provided advice, which in turn would be likely to impair the Government’s ability to take forward its work on Covid Status App. This would
constitute substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs in terms of the exemption.

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 enabling the Scottish Government to determine how and from whom it receives legal advice, without facing external pressure or concerns that particular conclusions may be drawn from the fact that any particular lawyer has or has not provided legal advice on a particular matter. Releasing information about the source of legal advice would also be a breach of the long-standing Law Officer Convention (reflected in the Scottish Ministerial Code) which prevents the Scottish Government from revealing whether Law Officers either have or have not provided legal advice on any matter. There is no public interest in breaching that Convention by divulging which lawyers provided advice on any issue.

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 202100248440 - Information released

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

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