I understand your frustration and disappointment with your application result for CashBack Phase 6. I can reassure you that this is no reflection on Achieve More Scotland’s current project work in Phase 5 or your wider community work which is highly regarded and successful.
I understand that you are not satisfied with the answers you have had in response to your questions in the letters of 14th December 2022 (ref 202200334364) and 4th January 2023 (ref 202300336532).
This review provides new individual answers to the questions that were responded to and answered as a grouped response in previous correspondence and the questions asked in your review request letter dated 15th February 2023 (Annex A). I have also included a copy of Achieve More Scotland’s sift report within the assessment form from Inspiring Scotland (Annex D).
We are unable to re-assess your application as has been explained previously. You have received feedback on your application via a meeting with officials on the 12th December 2023 and in our responses to your two letters dated 2 February 2023.
I will therefore respond to your request for review outlined in your letter dated 15th February 2023 in the following way:
- Review the handling of your FOI requests and whether correct procedures were followed and all statutory obligations were met.
- Review the CashBack application process and assessment principles, structures, governance and processes, along with the guidance that was given to applicants.
- Provide a summary and further information (as requested in the letter dated 15th February 2023):
- to clarify the structures and governance that was in place and overview of application and assessment process
- to highlight where your feedback will be taken on board
- to explain how the structure and governance is open to public scrutiny relating to funding bids whilst working within the GDPR, Procurement and FOI regulations and assess whether further information can be published and made publicly available.
- As has been explained before, we cannot reassess your application but I can review the feedback that has already been provided to you and provide further responses to all of your questions that you have identified as not having been responded to in the previous correspondence as they were thematically grouped . I have documented these and provided a response to every question in the attached question log in Annex A.
Review of our FOI handling and procedures
I have reviewed all the correspondence documentation provided in relation to previous requests in the letters of 14th December 2022 (ref 202200334364) and 4th January 2023 (ref 202300336532). My findings confirm that:
- All requests were logged onto the appropriate tracking systems (MiCase and FOI system) and responses provided within in the relevant time period.
- The responses provided included all the relevant information and adequate explanation was given of why any FOI exemptions were applied. The public interest test was correctly applied due to the commercial sensitivity of the information requested. The responses included information about the right to a review of the decision.
I therefore conclude that reasonable advice and assistance was provided in the responses.
Review of the CashBack Governance structures and application process
The Governance Structure of the CashBack for Communities Programme adheres to Scottish Government Corporate Organisation Structures and delegated decision and financial authority routes. The CashBack Programme mandate, programme priorities and outcomes are agreed and signed off by Ministers, along with the Director of Safer Communities and Deputy Director of Safer Communities.
The procurement process and tendering schedule for the Delivery Partner, who then has the programme management role and contributed to the assessment process, is signed off by the Deputy Director of Safer Communities with Delegated Procurement Authority. The procurement processes followed the Procurement Journey which complies with the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015, Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016 and the statutory guidance.
The design of the application process is developed collaboratively between the Scottish Government and Delivery Partner – Inspiring Scotland for Phase 6 - and signed off by Ministers and SG Directors.
The design of the application process is adapted and improved with each phase, incorporating feedback and ensuring it is aligned with current Scottish Government priorities. It is designed to maintain fairness and equality. A full step by step guide is included in Annex B.
Responding to your feedback
Your feedback on the application process and request for more transparency is noted. We will use this to inform the design of any future phases and will update our guidance and information available with the applications. We will take on board the need for more clarity on what information is shared and made publicly available throughout the process.
Review what is publicly available
As far as information of our current application processes being publicly available, the following was published on the CashBack website during the application period:
- Assessment process, measures and outcomes logic model, guidance for applications (I have provided a copy of the application guidance document in Annex C as this is not available on the website at this time as it is out with the application period).
- Current funded partners and impact reports.
The application form with applicant’s content, sift reports, assessment forms, scores, feedback documents and panel members are all deemed sensitive and commercially confidential.Under this banner, the documents and information are not publicly available via FOI requests due to the provisions under Section 43. Responses to your previous letters have outlined our assessment of the prejudice test detailing how and why disclosure has the potential to prejudice commercial interests. We will review this aspect for any future phase to see what more we can make available by asking for permissions and consent at the application stage.
Review responses to your questions on the feedback provided on your application
I have collated the responses (in Annex A) to over 40 questions from the previous correspondence and included new answers to the individual questions on the Areas for Development feedback where they were responded to as a group in the previous response. I have also included the questions in your letter of the 15th February 2023 and responded to them. These are dated 3 March 2023 and referenced with this case number 202300344836.
In conclusion, I hope this letter addresses your concerns and confidence in the assessment and decision making process for Phase 6 and that you will share my view that your requests have now been thoroughly investigated. You have now received a range of feedback on your application, providing information on the scores and the feedback contained from the sift and panel assessments, in writing and from a meeting with the team. The structure of the application process ensures that decisions are made in a fair and equal way, basing considerations on what is provided in the application forms and not reliant on previous working relationships or wider knowledge of the work of the organisation.
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.
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Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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