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  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Posted on April 8th, 2009 admin No comments

     The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a warning to public authorities to get their publication schemes in shape - or else.

    A statement released from the ICO (link) says it will be monitoring websites of public authorities to check that they are complying with new guidelines on publication schemes which came into force on January 1.

    Under the Freedom of Information Act authorities must adopt a publication scheme so that people can easily identify the types of information that are normally disclosed. The ICO says a good publication scheme will eventually reduce administration costs for public authorities and help transparency.

    The ICO has pledged to take a softly-softly approach on public authorities that don’t come up to scratch.

    It says the first step will be to contact offending authorities to highlight areas where the publication scheme is failing pointing out where things need to be improved.

    Enforcement action will only be taken if a public authority shows “serious or repeated non-compliance”.

    In a bid to help public authorities produce a publication scheme the ICO has produced “model schemes” on its website.

    Assistant Information Commissioner, Gerrard Tracey said: “We are actively monitoring authorities to promote good practice and ensure that the requirements of the scheme are being met. This is in line with both our enforcement strategy and the specific guidance we have provided to support public authorities in adopting the scheme.

    “The vast majority of public authorities take their freedom of information responsibilities seriously and this new approach will support those who do. Unfortunately some do not, and in cases of systemic non-compliance we will use the powers available to us, which include enforcement action, to insist on adherence to the requirements of the Act.”

    Editor’s note: Please send me (anonymously if you prefer) any examples of Publication Schemes that you consider “good, bad or ugly” and I’ll post a link on this blog. I’m also going to ask the ICO how many organisations it has contacted informally about not having an adequate publication scheme (link).

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