Can you please provide updated answers to the questions raised in FOI/202000082290.
In addition can you confirm if Scottish Government policy documents on Cyber security require all SG employees to access the SG system through a UK IP address only?
FOI 202000082290 asked the following:
The number of Scottish Government staff who have been allowed to work from a location outside of Scotland during the pandemic.
This should be staff members who would work in Scottish Government offices but have been required to work at home during the pandemic.
Please include all those who have travelled internationally and continued working for a location overseas, and those who have travelled to elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Please provide the number of staff, and also the location/country they have been working from.
In your request, you have asked for information about Scottish Government staff. This response therefore covers staff in the Core Directorates of the Scottish Government (see Annex A).
In your request you have asked us to provide updated answers to the questions raised in FOI/202000082290. FOI/202000082290 asked for information about Scottish Government staff who had been allowed to work from a location outside of Scotland during the pandemic. We have therefore interpreted your request to mean Scottish Government staff who are currently working from a location outside of Scotland. If that interpretation is incorrect, please let us know.
As confirmed in the earlier FOI/202000082290, the Scottish Government has staff working overseas as a matter of course, such as in our established international hubs, where staff are permanently based. At end March 2023, there were 20 directly employed staff based overseas. Ten were based in Brussels, two in Berlin, two in Dublin, two in Ottawa, two in Washington DC, one in Beijing and one in Paris.
Since 30 August 2021 staff have also been able to ask to work remotely from a location outside of the UK for a short period of time for personal reasons. Currently there are 49 staff working outside of the UK for personal reasons.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information about the location/country where staff are working from would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. There is because requests to work from abroad are considered by local business areas and there are no central records held. To enable us to identify the information that you have requested, we would have to contact the business areas individually and ask them to review their records. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.
Where staff wish to work temporarily from elsewhere in the UK, the local business area would consider the request taking account of business needs. There is no requirement to inform HR and therefore no information is held. Therefore this is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
FOI/202000082290 also asked for information about the number of staff. This information is available at Scottish Government workforce information - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
In regards to your second request, if Scottish Government policy documents on Cyber security require all SG employees to access the SG system through a UK IP address only.
We consider that the information requested in this part of your request is exempt under 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs). In considering this exemption we have taken account of the fact that disclosure of information under the FOISA is to “the world at large”, not just to an individual applicant. We are therefore required to consider the effect of releasing the information into the public domain.
We recognise that there is an inherent public interest in openness and transparency regarding the use of Government systems. However we have to balance this interest with the ability of those travelling internationally on Government business to operate safely and securely, as well as to protect our networks and information, all of which is required to enable the conduct of public affairs.
Providing details about the information you have requested into the public domain could subsequently be used by threat actors to evade any controls we might or might not have in place.
We consider that the public interest in ensuring that the security of our systems and processes is not compromised, thereby maintaining ability to conduct affairs of public office, outweighs that of disclosing this information. We have therefore decided to withhold the information.
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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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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