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Dept of Health sets standard on FOI timeliness

The quarterly Freedom of Information statistics for central government have been published for January to March 2010. Credit to the Department of Health, which dealt with 98% of all requests within the standard 20 working day deadline. This is the second highest ever achieved by a Whitehall department. The Privy Council Office holds the record – it answered 100% of requests within 20 working days between April and June 2005 – but it only received 25 requests in that period. This is the second consecutive quarter DoH has achieved 98%.

Executive Summary
Volumes [see Table 1]
Across all monitored bodies, a total of 11,199 requests were received an increase of 9 per cent on quarter 1 2009.

93 per cent of requests received had been processed at the time of monitoring.

Departments of State reported receiving 6,857 “non-routine” information requests during the first quarter of 2010 (Q1). Other monitored bodies received 4,342 requests.

363 requests handled under the amended Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) which came into force on 1 January 2005.

Timeliness [see Table 2 and Table B]
During Q1 of 2010, 89 per cent of all monitored bodies’ requests (excluding those “on hold” or lapsed) were “in time”, in that they were processed within the statutory deadline or were subject to a permitted deadline extension. This figure is above both the previous quarter and the corresponding quarter of 2009.

Figures for individual Departments of State ranged from 55 per cent (Ministry of Defence) to 100 per cent (Department of Health). For the 21 Departments of State who received more than 20 requests in the quarter, 15 had more than 90 per cent of requests processed “in time”.

Outcomes [see Table 3 and Table C]
Of all “resolvable” requests received during Q1 of 2010 (i.e. requests where it was possible to make a substantive decision on whether to release the information being sought), 54 per cent were granted in full, slightly lower than both the previous quarter and the corresponding quarter of 2009.

Figures for individual Departments of State ranged from 24 per cent (Cabinet Office) to 77 per cent (Communities and Local Government and the Government Equalities Office).

 The stats can be downloaded in Excel format here.

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