Procedural problems continue to plague FOI
(CNS): In her latest decision over a Freedom of Information dispute the information commissioner has upheld a decision by the National Pensions Office to redact some of the documents it finally released. However, in her ruling Jennifer Dilbert highlighted the procedural problems that continue to plague FOI. The process of the request had taken “an inordinately long time”, and while significant records were released in the end, some were not disclosed until the course of the commissioner’s latest hearing, two years after the original request.
“With a timely and correct application of the FOI Law, these documents could have been reviewed, redacted as necessary, and disclosed much earlier, sparing the Applicant, the ICO, the NPO and the Legal Department much time and resources,” Dilbert said.
In this latest appeal an applicant had been refused access by the National Pensions Office to audited accounts and records of correspondence relating to Multiple and Single Employer pension plans. Following the Information Commissioner’s Decision 16 last year a significant number of records were disclosed, but some information was redacted.
As a result of those redactions relating to personal information, with the exception of two words the commissioner upheld the decision by the public authority to black out other words. Dilbert said that apart from one instance, the information consists solely of the names or signatures of officials in the various private sector companies associated with the pension plans
However, in her full decision she points to the delays caused to the hearing by a mixture of missed deadlines by the both the NPO and the Legal Department, which was acting for them, and that department’s late involvement and subsequent objections to various procedural matters, which required the ICO to take legal advice.
See the commissioner’s full decision below.
|ICO Decision 23-00512 National Pensions Office 2012-10-05 (1).pdf||97.65 KB|
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