Central government FOI statistics April-June 2010

The quarterly Freedom of Information statistics for central government have been published for April to June 2010. The Department of Health continued its good record on timeliness, managing to respond to 98% of requests within the standard 20 working day deadline for the 3rd quarter in succession. The Treasury also answered 97% of requests within 20 working days. Overall, timeliness by government departments seems to be steadily improving – departments answered 83% of requests in 20 days in Q2 of 2010 compared to 79% in Q1 of 2010, 76% in Q4 of 2009 and 75% in Q3 of 2009. The MoD still lags behind on 64%, though this is an improvement on its 50% in Q1 of 2010.

Executive summary [see Table 1 and Table A]
Across all monitored bodies, a total of 10,286 requests were received – an increase of 3 per cent on the second quarter of 2009 (Q2).

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

Departments of State reported receiving 6,339 “non-routine” information requests during the Q2 of 2010 – an increase of 10 per cent on the second quarter of 2009. Other monitored bodies received 3,947 requests – a decrease of 6 per cent compared to the second quarter of 2009.

There were 296 requests handled under the amended Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) which came into force on 1 January 2005 – an increase of 57 percent compared to the same quarter in 2009 although a decrease of 18 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

Timeliness [see Table 2 and Table B]
During Q2 of 2010, 90 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 is higher than in the previous quarter and the corresponding quarter of 2009.

Figures for individual Departments of State ranged from 69 per cent (Ministry of Defence) to 100 per cent (Department of Health and Department for Culture, Media and Sport). For the 20 Departments of State who received more than 20 requests in the quarter, 12 processed more than 90 per cent of requests “in time”.

Outcomes [see Table 3 and Table C]
Of all “resolvable” requests received during Q2 of 2010 (i.e. requests where it was possible to make a substantive decision on whether to release the information being sought), 58 per cent were granted in full, higher than both the previous quarter and the corresponding quarter of 2009.

Figures for individual Departments of State ranged from 31 per cent (Ministry of Justice) to 81 per cent (Department for Education). However, caution should be taken in reading too much into these differences as it at least in part reflects the nature of requests received. For example, Ministry of Justice receives a large number of requests which relate to individual court cases which are exempt under the Act and therefore with-held in full.

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