How publication schemes could be improved
There are lots of sector-specific suggestions for what should go into the new model publication schemes. Please add ideas and improve suggestions to those made here.
Any sector-specific suggestions to other types of authority listed here should be added to the table above and a new wiki page created for each. They should be divided into the main classes of information that the model scheme provides:
- Who we are and what we do - Organisational information, locations and contacts, constitutional and legal governance.
- What we spend and how we spend it - Financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, tendering, procurement and contracts.
- What our priorities are and how we are doing - Strategy and performance information, plans, assessments, inspections and reviews.
- How we make decisions - Policy proposals and decisions. Decision making processes, internal criteria and procedures, consultations.
- Our policies and procedures - Current written protocols for delivering our functions and responsibilities.
- Lists and registers - Information held in registers required by law and other lists and registers relating to the functions of the authority.
- The services we offer - Advice and guidance, booklets and leaflets, transactions and media releases.A description of the services offered.
This page should be used for generic improvements that should apply to all publication schemes (ie the Model Publication Scheme)
1. Contact email address for FOI requests
There is a section in the model scheme about contacts
"Locations of, and contact details for, the authority
This should cover the department at all levels, from the central body to offices open to the public for conducting the department’s business. Where possible, give named contacts."
- The contact address people are most likely looking for is the email address of the "Freedom of Information Officer" if not they might be looking for an email address for Data Protection Act requests or an email address to make a complaint.
- It helps if authorities have email@example.com as the address. Where people's names are used there are problems when they leave, they are sick, on holiday, maternity leave...
2. Companies they own
If a public authority is the sole shareholder (or sole member of a company limited by guarantee) then that company is subject to the Freedom of Information Act as a result of of the Act (http://www.opsi.gov.uk/Acts/acts2000/ukpga_20000036_en_2#pt1-pb1-l1g6).
- It would be useful if each public authority published a list of all their 100% subsidiaries and an FOI contact email address for each.
- It would also be useful if they said what each company did e.g. "provider of consultancy services" "investment management company", or to state whether the company is dormant or not.
- best practice would also be to give a registered company number
3. Information management policies and procedures
- It is useful for the public to know that the record retention policy can be requested
- It helps to provide a list of policy and procedures that can be requested
- Even better to publish these documents on the website
- The publication scheme should be published on the public authority website (if there is one)
- If a public authority does not have a website then the scheme should be published on the website of a related public authority
- The publication scheme should be on a webpage rather than in a word or PDF document
- The scheme should include hyper links to documents already published on-line.
5. Accounting records
- the trial balance for each financial year should be on the publication scheme
- details of software licensing costs or enterprise-wise licensing agreements
6. Affiliations and Memberships
- The scheme should include a document listing bodies to which the authority pays an affiliation or membership fee (e.g. to be part of a consortium or representative body)
- The scheme should explain the types of documents the authority regularly receives as a result of that affiliation or membership e.g. minutes of meetings, correspondence, annual reports
7. Disclosure Log
- The scheme should include a link to a document listing all FOI requests along with the response given (Information Disclosed / Request Rejected [Reason] / Information Not Held etc.)
- Documents released following FOI requests ought be placed online so that they are easily available to others.
- As part of dealing with a FOI request an authority ought consider if it can routinely publish the information requested online (and add it to its publication scheme) so that it is always easily accessible in an up-to-date form.