Covid-19 FOI UpdateUPDATE: Our services and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

8 June 2020

Like many other Scottish public authorities, the office of the Scottish Information Commissioner has been impacted by the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. However, most of our services are still available.

This article sets out some of the work we are conducting and the Commissioner's expectations for Scottish public authorities. You can read more about how we are able to help on our contact page.

Our work

Though our office premises are temporarily closed in line with government guidance, the Commissioner and approximately two thirds of his staff are now working from home using secure remote systems, and we are intending to expand our remote working further. The work we are conducting includes: 

  • Investigating appeals, conducting interventions and issuing decisions 
  • Producing new guidance and updating the Covid-19 and FOI info hub 
  • Monitoring FOI developments 
  • Responding to enquiries received by email or post 
  • Responding to requests for information and requests for reviews 
  • Managing ongoing projects and contracts 
  • Developing further remote working capability 
  • Managing payroll, budgets, finance, governance, data protection, human resources, statutory reporting, information and risk 
  • Ensuring staff health, safety and wellbeing

The Commissioner’s expectations for Scottish public authorities

The Commissioner has stated that, in line with the current provisions of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, he will be sympathetic to the effects of coronavirus Covid-19 on public authorities’ ability to respond to requests for information during the pandemic. However, the duty to respond promptly and in no more than 20 working days remains in place and the Commissioner expects authorities to comply with this duty wherever possible, with reasons for any delays being noted in line with the Commissioner’s current guidance.

Authorities are also encouraged to publish as much relevant information about their activities as possible during this time. Proactive publication is more important than ever, as it can support and strengthen public trust, enable people to be as informed as possible about the decisions that are being taken. It may also help reduce the workload around responding to requests for information on related matters.

Further information

You can read more about the Commissioner’s services during the current disruption on our contact us page.

For information about the impact of the pandemic on FOI in Scotland, and the duties placed on Scottish public authorities at this time, visit the Covid-19 and FOI info hub.


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