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Scottish Government says it will improve its Freedom of Information performance

Daren Fitzhenry released a report in May (PA)
Daren Fitzhenry released a report in May (PA)

The Scottish Government has said it will improve its performance around Freedom of Information (FOI) requests over the next year, after the Information Commissioner highlighted “systemic” concerns.

In May, Daren Fitzhenry released a report saying there were significant record-keeping failures as well as delays and bottlenecks.

The government says it will carry out an urgent review into its case management system and extend existing guidance and training.

As part of its improvement plan, it has set a target of returning FOI response rates to 90% this year.

New procedures for dealing with FOI requests were introduced following a previous review in 2018.

In his most recent progress report, Mr Fitzhenry said the pandemic was undoubtedly a factor in some of the issues he identified, but there were underlying problems with compliance and record-keeping.

Coronavirus – Tue Oct 6, 2020
George Adam said the Scottish Government wanted to do better (Fraser Bremner/PA)

George Adam, Minister for Parliamentary Business, said: “The Scottish Government recognises that Freedom of Information plays a critical role in ensuring that openness and transparency underlies effective governance.

“Our FOI environment has changed profoundly. We are now handling 40% more requests each year than three years ago; 4,200 in 2021.

“Our response rate of 86% over that time is around the Scottish average but we want to do better, and this improvement plan sets out how we are going to achieve that.

“We continue to work closely with the Commissioner and his team and appreciate their constructive approach to this process.”