The Commissioner's list
Two readers of this blog have drawn my attention - for different reasons - to the Information Commissioner's Office caseload spreadsheet, published yesterday on whatdotheyknow.com, following an FOI request to the ICO by Alex Skene.
One reader points out that, according to his analysis of the spreadsheet, the public authority which is the subject of most appeals to the ICO is in fact the BBC, followed by the Cabinet Office, Home Office, Department of Health and Foreign Office. (One reason for the high BBC tally is that, as with Channel 4, journalistic and other editorial material is outside the remit of FOI altogether, and most of these cases are about where this line is drawn, a topic on which disappointed requesters cannot seek an internal review from the BBC but have to go directly to the ICO).
The other reader points out that the ICO has not supplied the requested synopsis of each case. Its reply states: 'Our casework management system which holds all the complaints we receive ... does not record a synopsis of the nature of the complaint .... We therefore do not hold that information.'
The reader comments: 'Obviously this is wrong. The ICO must hold details of the nature of complaints. The fact that such information is not held on their handy casework management system does not mean that the public authority does not hold the information! It really worries me when those that are 'policing' FOI are unable to adhere to the Act themselves, or simply do not understand its application. I think, perhaps, the ICO should have stated that they do hold details of each case, but that collating this would exceed the appropriate limit.'
And perhaps they should have done - in the light of their decisions which I discussed earlier this month.
UPDATE Friday 18 July: Following this post, Steve Wood of the ICO is now undertaking a review of the ICO response, as he has made clear on whatdotheyknow.com.