Financial accountability


Commissioner's duties as Accountable Officer

Paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 designates the Commissioner as Accountable Officer. The Accountable Officer signs the accounts, ensures the propriety and regularity of the finances, and ensures that resources are used economically, efficiently and effectively. The Commissioner is answerable to the Scottish Parliament, in the discharge of these responsibilities.

The relevant responsibilities as Accountable Officer are set out in the Memorandum to Accountable Officers for Other Public Bodies, issued by the Scottish Government and published in the Scottish Public Finance Manual.

How the Commissioner is funded

The Scottish Information Commissioner is one of a number of officeholders for which the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) is responsible for providing an annual budget.

The Commissioner's financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March. Each summer the SPCB writes to the Commissioner seeking a budget submission for the next financial year, together with an indicative budget for the year after that.

So, for example, the July 2019 submission mapped out the budget for 2020-21 and indicated a budget for 2021-22. The SPCB's letter will include instructions on the format and content of the Commissioner's budget submission and might include, for example, guidance on what it considers to be generally appropriate increases or decreases.

The SPCB scrutinises the Commissioner's budget and also has power to approve the budget. Over the autumn the SPCB and the Commissioner discuss the budget submission, and agree changes if necessary. This process can involve correspondence and face to face meetings. Importantly, the process of scrutiny must balance the requirement for the Commissioner to be accountable for use of public funds, with the need to maintain independence in performing the duties under the legislation.

The Commissioner's budget then forms part of the SPCB's overall budget submission, which must be approved by the Scottish Parliament's Finance Committee, usually around November. The entire Scottish budget, including the SPCB's, goes before the full Scottish Parliament, and once approved the Commissioner receives a letter confirming the budget, normally in March.

View the Commissioner's Annual Audited Accounts


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