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Scottish Government Intervention Report




Intervention 201702106: Scottish Government

Scottish Government's draft action plan

On 13 September 2018 the Commissioner received the Scottish Government's draft action plan for approval. The Government has published the draft plan on its website at

The Commissioner reviewed the Government's proposed actions against the recommendations made in his Intervention Report (see below). It is particularly important at the action planning stage of an intervention to ensure there is a clear understanding of both the outcomes to be achieved and what they will look like. There is often a discussion with a public authority about its draft plan before the Commissioner approves the final version.

The Commissioner provided a response on the draft action plan to the Minister for Parliamentary Business on 9 October 2018.

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201810 09 Letter to Minister for Parliamentary Business

Intervention Report: Assessment Phase

 On 13 June 2018 the Commissioner published his report following the assessment phase of his intervention into the Scottish Government's FOI practice and performance. The full report is available to download below.

The report details the findings of the Commissioner's extensive assessment. These include:

  • It is an important principle of FOI law that, in most cases, it should not matter who asks for information. The practice of referring requests for clearance by Ministers simply because they come from journalists, MSPs and researchers is inconsistent with that principle.
  • The Scottish Government's FOI policies and procedures are not clear enough about the role of special advisers in responding to FOI requests.
  • The Scottish Government takes longer to respond to journalists' FOI requests than other requests, but in only one case did the Commissioner find evidence that delay was deliberate.
  • The Scottish Government's FOI practice has improved significantly over the last year, following the Commissioner's first intervention: average response times to all requests, including journalists' requests have reduced.
  • The Commissioner makes seven recommendations for further specific improvements to: clearance procedures; quality assurance of FOI responses; training; case handling and case records management; monitoring FOI requests and review procedures.

This assessment included:

  • Statistical analysis of data from 7,318 FOI requests received by the Scottish Government between December 2014 and December 2017
  • Inspection of 104 individual Scottish Government FOI case files
  • Examination of 87 appeals to the Commissioner about the Scottish Government's handling of FOI requests
  • Review of the Scottish Government's FOI guidance and procedures
  • Face-to-face interviews with 31 Scottish Government officials and four Cabinet Secretaries.

The Commissioner requires the Scottish Government to develop an action plan (for his approval) by 13 September 2018. The Commissioner will monitor and review the implementation of the action plan.

Read the Report:

 Scottish Government Intervention - Assessment Report (PDF - 321 kB)PDF icon

Responses to requests for information

Below are responses to requests for information received following publication of the report.

Date of response

Requested information

Download the response

 12 July 2018 Interview notes (and drafts) PDF icon Request 201801010
 12 July 2018 Versions of the report sent to the Scottish Government ahead of publication and related correspondence. PDF icon  Request 201801074


In November 2017 the Commissioner confirmed that he would be undertaking a further intervention into the Scottish Government's FOI performance. The Commissioner's letter to the Minister for Parliamentary Business provides background to the intervention.

Invitation to journalists to provide further information

On 13 December 2017, the Commissioner issued the invitation below to the signatories of a letter sent by journalists in May 2017 to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. He invited them to provide further evidence to help him frame accurately the assessment phase of the intervention.

The invitation provides useful information about the scope of the intervention and a list of the questions the assessment phase will focus on.

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 Invitation to provide further evidence

We will publish a summary of the responses to this invitation as soon as possible after the closing date for submissions (12 January 2018).

Terms of the intervention

The Commissioner wrote to the Minister on 2 February 2018 to set out the aims of the intervention, the methodology for the assessment phase and the questions the intervention will explore. 

The assessment phase is due to begin at the end of February 2018.

PDF icon  2018 02 02 Commissioner's letter to Minister for Parliamentary Business 


Correspondence about the intervention

On 8 February 2018 Tavish Scott MSP wrote to the Commissioner about the intervention. You can read the exchange of correspondence below.

PDF icon 2018 02 08 Letter from Tavish Scott MSP to Commissioner

PDF icon 2018 02 15 Letter from Commissioner to Tavish Scott MSP


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