Statistics were recently released on the performance of UK central government departments with respect to their handling of freedom of information requests. The latest figures are for the second quarter of 2009. We have been able to use these to calculate the fraction of all requests which are made via mySociety’s freedom of information website WhatDoTheyKnow.com.
- 13.1% of all FOI requests to “Departments of State” in the second quarter of 2009 were made via WhatDoTheyKnow.com. In absolute terms this was 753 out of 5769 requests; this is up from 8.5% in the first quarter of 2009.
- 32.3% of FOI requests to the Home Office (which includes the UKBA and the IPS) were made via WhatDoTheyKnow in the second quarter of 2009. In absolute terms this was 206 out of 638 requests.
- The latest figures show that in twelve of the UK’s twenty-one Departments of State more than 10% of FOI requests were made via WhatDoTheyKnow.
What these statistics mean is that an ever increasing fraction of the information released in response to freedom of information requests is being archived and made publicly available by WhatDoTheyKnow.com. Hopefully this will reduce the number of duplicate requests being submitted and ensure the information released is made available to the widest possible audience which in-turn should increase the chances it is acted on.
Only forty-three central government bodies have their freedom of information performance monitored centrally. This is a tiny fraction of the three thousand or so bodies currently listed by WhatDoTheyKnow.
Nice one, glads it gaining traction.
The Home Office seem to be pretty good at just losing requests, so do we know that the statistics are actually accurate?
Martin Rosenbaum, who writes the “Open Secrets” FOI blog on the BBC website, has written an article commenting on these statistics:
It’s great to see stats being produced on requests.
I wonder whether collecting data on grounds for rejection has been considered – say, as part of the Classification options. It would be interesting to know which are the big hitters in terms of exemptions claimed. For example, who/how many are using the ‘manifestly unreasonable’ argument, or the ‘in confidence’ argument. At the moment, this data is sometimes in the reply text and sometimes effectively hidden within attachments sent by the body concerned.
I think people who had received a rejection would be willing to provide that info, say by selecting an option from a list, as they won’t be best pleased with the rejection.