Today the Scottish Information Commissioner has published his Annual Report and Accounts for the year 2020-21. It was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 14 October 2021.
"The right of access to information has never been more relevant: FOI is an essential part of the response to the pandemic, and must remain a priority.
"Though fewer requests for information were made to public authorities across the past year (particularly during the initial period of Covid-19 restrictions), I am heartened to see that almost three quarters still resulted in full or partial disclosure of information.
"My team and I continue to regulate FOI, from investigating appeals made about specific requests to Scottish public authorities, to launching interventions with specific authorities to improve their FOI practice. The temporary closure of our office premises and related disruption, combined with high numbers of appeal cases from 2019-20 and in the second half of 2020-21, have inevitably had some impact on our performance. However, the efforts of the team and our more agile ways of working should stand us in good stead to improve further across the coming year.
"Looking ahead, we will continue to assess the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on FOI, learning lessons and helping authorities to improve. We also look forward to the Scottish Government taking forward the recommendations of the Scottish Parliament's Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee report on the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act. We are ready to provide our input in helping make changes to improve and develop Scotland's FOI system, keeping it up to date and relevant in the post-pandemic world."