Research on Open Data and Transparency

Freedom of Information: Who Gets What?

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Below are some extracts from the Institute for Government’s 2014 Whitehall Monitor. You can see the full graphs and details here.

Who Gets What Requests?

MoJ received the most requests in 2014 Q2, closely followed by DWP. DWP went from one of a cluster of departments with the most requests to the clear frontrunner until a decline in the last quarter, while MoJ emerged from that cluster at the start of 2013.

HO and HMT have seen declines in requests since early 2013. DWP and DH both saw a spike in requests in 2012 Q1, DH nearly trebling its previous number.
It is possible that the increases in requests for specific departments are due to major (and controversial) reforms in those departments. Many requests are submitted by individuals about themselves – for example, to check how something will affect them or the status of a claim.

Who Peforms Best and Worst?

Bodies subject to FoI requests are required to respond within 20 working days. The Wales Office responded to all of its 23 requests ‘in time’ in 2014 Q2, closely followed by DH (488 out of 490), while DCLG was the worst performer in early 2014 but still responded on time to 80% of requests.

Who Witholds Most?

The departments responsible for the Government’s transparency agenda (CO) and FoI policy (MoJ) are among those with the highest percentage of requests where the relevant information is fully withheld and not provided to the applicant at all.
Figures since 2010 show FCO has granted only a small number of requests in full, while DfT has consistently provided full responses.
DH’s full disclosure rate plummeted in 2012 Q1 (when its number of requests spiked), while DfE’s has dropped from 82% in 2010 Q2 to 59% in 2014 Q2. HMRC, which had the highest percentage of fully withheld requests in the most recent quarter, fell from a full disclosure rate of 49% in 2010 Q2 to 27% in 2014 Q2


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