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My final report

Freedom of Information Annual Report 2010/11

It's in your hands

This is my last annual report to the Scottish Parliament before I demit office as Scottish Information Commissioner.  Over the past nine years I have issued more than 1,300 formal decisions, conducted nearly 30 practice assessments of authorities, and ordered the disclosure of information which previously would have been withheld.  Precedent has been set which now means that many requests for information ? such as on matters regarding commercial contracts and public spending or performance - result in disclosure by authorities as a matter of course.  Yet there are still many cases in which the interpretation of the law is complex or disputed.

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and associated Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs) are now firmly embedded in the practice and culture of Scottish public authorities.  The degree of compliance by authorities, and the effective means of appeal if people are dissatisfied, are widely recognised.  I am consulted from across the globe by national governments and international bodies on the practical implementation of an FOI regime, as much as on issues of interpretation of the law.

It is important not to be complacent.  As I have pointed out in previous annual reports, there are developments in the delivery of public services which mean that FOI rights are being lost. The Scottish Government decided earlier in 2011 not to use its powers to designate any additional bodies under FOISA.  The legislative programme does, however, make provision for an Amendment Bill to clarify and strengthen FOISA, and I look forward to contributing to the consultation on that before I leave office.

It is my intention to make a special report to the Scottish Parliament on the state of freedom of information in Scotland later this year, when I will look back at what has been achieved since FOISA came into effect in 2005, and consider the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.

In the meantime I would like to thank all of my staff for their efforts this year, as in all others. We have built a tremendously knowledgeable and resilient team and, despite the constraints on our resources, as my final annual report shows, thanks to them we continue to deliver on our plans and performance targets.

Kevin Dunion's Signature

 

 

Kevin Dunion, Scottish Information Commissioner

Photograph of Kevin Dunion

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