The Scottish Information Commissioner - It's Public Knowledge
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Model Publication Scheme Monitoring 2018

Freedom of information law in Scotland requires public authorities to proactively publish information to the public - this is their publication scheme duty. 

Proactive publication is a critical tool for the public to hold public bodies to account, particularly in relation to decision-making, spending, procurement and contracts.

The research carried out on the Commissioner’s behalf by Craigforth Ltd, involved a “mystery-shopping” exercise with a sample of 71 Scottish public bodies in March and April 2018. The study specifically focussed on the accessibility of each authority's Guide to Information, procurement information and decision-making information, as well as the provision of advice and assistance. The research also looked at the extent to which authorities' publication practices met three of the six Model Publication Scheme principles:

  • The availability and format of information
  • The charging principle
  • The duration of the information published

Researchers found the majority of Scottish public authorities are complying with their legal obligations to publish information, but not all do, and provision is not always consistent.

Broadly, the findings show:

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The vast majority of authorities publish their Guides to Information online - 94 per cent of public authorities publish their Guides online and 85 per cent have their Guides linked to their home page.

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Many authorities are not keeping their Guides to Information up to date - 35 per cent of authorities show when their Guides were last updated. Despite a revision to the Model Publication Scheme in June 2017, ony 18 per cent of authorities' Guides had a review date after this change. 

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Information on procurement and decision-making is not always easy to find - Only 61 per cent of authorities give a weblink to procurement information in their Guide to Information and for only 34 per cent, the information can be reached within 3 clicks from the home page. For decision-making information, 68 per cent of authorities have a weblink in their Guide to Information. However, only 28 per cent provide this information fewer that 3 clicks from their home pages.

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Most telephone and email requests were dealt with well - 18 out of 20 emails sent received responses, 13 within a week

Learning points

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Make sure your Guide to Information is kept up to date! There were revisions to the Guide in 2017. Including a review date on the Guide is good practice.

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Make sure procurement and decision-making information isn't hidden and can be accessed easily from your home page.  Include active weblinks to this information in your Guide to Information. 



Download the full report and data below:

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