FOI spotlight now shines on policy formulation
Freedom of information is beginning to bite, and hard.
As I wrote last month, recent decisions by the Information Tribunal mean that the spotlight of FOI is moving closer to heart of goverment. It is now shining into what for central goverment is one of the most sensitive areas, the process of policy formulation and internal discussion. These other cases affected the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Work and Pensions.
What's interesting in this case is that the Treasury decided not to contest it at the Information Tribunal - the hearing was scheduled for next month - but to concede now. Possibly this was influenced by the decisions already issued by the Tribunal in the DfES and DWP cases, which may have persuaded Treasury lawyers that their resistance was going nowhere.
The DfES and DWP shortly have to announce whether they will continue to take their battles against the release of internal advice and discussion to the next stage of the High Court, or whether they will now release the information.
For some, this is what the Freedom of Information Act was always really meant to be about. For others, it's what most worried them about it.