Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monitoring the OIA: The view from FYI

FYI, the public OIA request service, has just posted its statistics for the year. There are a number of caveats around the data: the closure date is taken as the date of last response (which in some cases is not actually related to the request), and it doesn't capture extensions at all. But despite that, one thing is clear: a large number of agencies are not responding to requests in a timely fashion. And a significant number appear not to be responding at all. When in the first few rows you can spot multiple agencies which have left requests unanswered for six months, something is seriously wrong.

And remember, this is just the requests made through FYI, where there is public pressure to respond. The full picture could be even worse. Unfortunately, no-one is looking at that picture. Despite a recommendation from the Law Commission that agencies keep statistics and a body examine them for oversight purposes, nothing has been done. And with no-one watching, there is simply no incentive for agencies to comply with the law.