Maintaining a Guide to Information

FOI law requires authorities to keep their published information up to date. This is a statutory duty. It is good practice to establish regular intervals for reviewing a Guide to Information.

Helpful tips

It is quite easy, when setting up your authority's Guide, to make sure that routine information, such as minutes of committee or board meetings are published on a regular basis. Where there are routine business processes for particular documents, you can add publication to the list.

It is harder, but just as important, to make sure that new types of information are added to the Guide as they become available. One way to do this is to keep a log of news about your authority's functions, services and plans, and to use this log to identify new types of information. You may find it helpful to review minutes of meetings, in-house newsletters, press releases and information requests to identify new types. You can also ask stakeholders if there is information they would like your authority to publish.

Staff can also be trained to think about publication when they prepare information, e.g.: writing information so that it is ready for publication; marking sensitive information so it can easily be redacted at publication; and ensuring publication is considered whenever new information is approved.

Publication schemes also don't exist in a vacuum - you can, and should, add any published information to your Guide to Information, whatever the reason for publishing it. So if your authority is publishing open data or there is new legislation requiring your authority to publish information, add the new publications to your Guide.

Assessing your practice

The Commissioner's Self-Assessment Toolkit includes a specific module on publishing information, to help improve practice in this area. The module will take you through a set of steps to help you:>

  1. Capture your authority's publication activity
  2. Assess how well you are performing against a set of publication standards
  3. Identify areas for improvement across your authority.

The Publishing Information module of the toolkit is available at

Compliance monitoring

The Commissioner periodically monitors authorities' compliance with the publication scheme duty. The research looks at compliance with different aspects of the duty, including:

  • The ease of accessing the authority's Guide to Information
  • Whether the authority's publication practice conforms with the Model Publication Scheme principles
  • Whether the authority is publishing the types of information the Commissioner expects.

Reports from the Commissioner's compliance monitoring are published at


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