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Freedom of Information Workshop & Briefing. 5 th March 2014 Welcome. FOI – Learning Outcomes. Learn about the Freedom of Information Act & Data Protection Act Understand what the FOI Act means for you and Birkbeck Develop confidence in responding to requests

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foi learning outcomes
FOI – Learning Outcomes
  • Learn about the Freedom of Information Act & Data Protection Act
  • Understand what the FOI Act means for you and Birkbeck
  • Develop confidence in responding to requests
  • Process Fix Feedback- Birkbeck FOI responses
foi menu
FOI - Menu
  • Freedom of Information Act &
  • Data Protection Act
  • Manager understanding of FOI responsibilities
  • Process Fix Feedback – Birkbeck FOI responses
  • Case Studies:

Selected examples of Birkbeck FOI requests & how Birkbeck responded

what is freedom of information
What is Freedom of Information?

Legislation

  • Legislation introduced in 2000 – FOI Act 2000
  • Implementation date - January 2005
  • Follows the Data Protection Act 1998

Scope

  • Central and local government plus the NHS
  • Also, many other public sector funded bodies
  • Education - all schools; plus all HEI sector
  • Does not apply to private sector companies
foi act objective
FOI Act – Objective
  • Improve transparency and accountability in the public sector
  • Birkbeck supports disclosure
  • Involves reputation of the College
  • Birkbeck FOI responses are read by others
  • Media – the FOI Act mentioned every day
  • Is having an impact and is here to stay
foi act impact
FOI Act - Impact
  • Over 50,000 information requests submitted to government bodies each year
  • Over 100 Birkbeck requests in 2012/13
  • Over 150 Birkbeck requests in 2013
  • Over one third of these are from journalists
  • Indicators – number of requests increasing
foi birkbeck obligations
FOI – Birkbeck Obligations
  • Birkbeck must comply with the legislation
  • Birkbeck must maintain a Publication Scheme
  • Birkbeck must respond to FOI requests
  • Birkbeck must respond promptly and clearly
  • Birkbeck must adhere to advice and guidance from the Information Commissioner
foi birkbeck managers
FOI - Birkbeck managers
  • Understand and follow the Act
  • Prepare for requests that could be raised
  • Recognise how to respond to requests
  • Communicate responsibilities to your team
  • Contact FOI Officer
foi act summary
FOI Act - Summary
  • The FOI Act gives a right of access to recorded information
  • Details relating to individual personal information are excluded
  • Information not available is not covered
  • Neither are opinion and estimation
  • Requester have a right of appeal
  • Appeal rights – both internal and external (ICO)
spotting a foi request
Spotting a FOI Request?
  • Requests must be in writing - email is ok
  • Must include a name and contact address
  • Can be sent to any member of staff
  • Need not mention FOI Act – they often do
  • More than one question – they usually are
  • More than one theme – they sometimes are
still spotting a foi request
Still Spotting a FOI Request
  • Ticking clock - starts day after Birkbeck arrival
  • Promptly and within 20 working days
  • Requests may cover any subject
  • Important – student numbers & complaints
  • Trivial - details of photocopying contracts
  • Irrelevant – animal experiments
responding to a foi request
Responding to a FOI Request
  • Is it FOI related – it might be
  • Birkbeck records all FOI requests & trends
  • Remember the deadline - requester will
  • The deadline is for the College – not just you
  • May cover issues that are awkward or difficult
  • Discuss concerns with FOI Officer
  • Exemptions – evidence based
foi process fix feedback
FOI – Process Fix Feedback
  • Birkbeck FOI responses
  • Review feedback so far
  • Scope to refine?
foi case studies
FOI – Case Studies
  • Examples of real requests for information
  • Sent to Birkbeck in 2013
  • What is your view?
foi case study examples
FOI Case Study - Examples
  • Case Study 1 – REF
  • Case Study 2 – Plagiarism
  • Case Study 3 – Investments
  • Case Study 4 – Room Bookings
  • Case Study 5 – Disabled Employees
data protection act
Data Protection Act
  • Data Protection Act 1998 relates to information about individuals
  • Specifically, information about living individuals - digital or paper format
  • Information is usually about personal data
  • Exam results or employee & student details
dpa birkbeck obligations
DPA – Birkbeck obligations
  • Register with the Information Commissioner
  • Ensure individuals have access to their data
  • Completion of Subject Access Request
  • Payment of a fee – currently £10
  • Confirming proof of identity
  • Exemptions apply – in some cases
dpa helpful points
DPA – Helpful Points
  • Be clear what action you will take
  • Must relate to personal information
  • Requester may know the information is stored
  • Don’t keep more data than you need
  • Set up retention procedures & follow them
  • Relatives and friends have no right to info
  • Use appropriate language in emails