Information Act 2000 was published today.
Information rights minister at the Department for Constitutional
'There is only one year to go to full implementation. This report
details what action has been taken by my department to bring the Act
into force. It also details the activities of other departments as
well as authorities across the whole of the public sector in
'Many authorities now have publication schemes in place and are
already putting into the public domain a far greater range of
material than ever before about the decisions they take. However,
it's important that all authorities get a grip now to ensure they are
fully prepared to cope with Freedom of Information requests once the
Act is fully in force.
'The Act presents a real opportunity for public authorities to make
the process of government at every level open and accountable and
thereby build trust in public bodies. Authorities at a local level
should use the Act to build closer links with the communities they
A lot of work is being done but there is a great deal more to do to
ensure the public sector is ready for January 2005.'
As well as the progress made by public authorities, the report
details the programme of work the Department for Constitutional
Affairs (DCA) has developed in consultation with the Office of the
Information Commissioner to assist authorities to prepare for Freedom
of Information. The programme has five key strands:
- Communications and Awareness - Following on from the FoI roadshows
in 2002, the DCA held 13 FoI awareness-raising seminars in England,
Wales and Northern Ireland between March and September. A further
publicity campaign is planned.
- Developing Networks - DCA is encouraging the development of
networks of specialist FoI practitioners in order to provide a
forum for discussion that will help to resolve common problems.
- Monitoring Systems - DCA will research and analyse the work being
done here and abroad to develop an IT system designed to assist
monitoring and management of information requests.
- Legislation - Over 40 bodies have been added to the list of
authorities subject to the Act. DCA intends to issue guidance on
the designation of private bodies as public authorities for the
purpose of the Act. The Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice will
also be revised and Regulations governing fees under the Act will
- Guidance - The DCA will issue a comprehensive range of guidance
regarding the handling of requests and the way in which statutory
exemptions should be applied. The Information Commissioner will
issue exemptions guidance with more general relevance to public
authorities outside of Central Government. A Model Action Plan on
FoI Implementation for use across the public sector is also being
produced and will be published before the New Year.
1. Copies of the 3rd Annual Report on Implementation of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 can be found on the DCA website at: Hard
copies are available from Information Rights Division, 4th Floor, MWB
Business Exchange, Greycoat Place, London, SW1P 1SB Tel: 020 7960
2. Guidance on the FoI Act 2000, Publication Schemes and the work of
the DCA in this area can be found at:
3. There are two further 'waves' to implement the publication scheme
- 29 February 2004 - Schools, universities, remaining NDPBs and other
public bodies, including publicly owned companies as defined in
section 6 of the Act.
- 30 June 2004 - remaining public authorities (this 'wave' is
predominantly intended for bodies designated as public bodies for
the purposes of FOI under section 5 of the Act).
< p/="">4. The general right of access will come into force 1 January 2005.
5. Under section 47 of the Act, the information commissioner is under
a duty to promote the following of good practice by public
authorities. This duty includes promoting the observance by public
authorities of the provisions of the Codes of Practice issued under
sections 45 and 46 the Act. If it seems to the commissioner that a
public authority's practice does not conform with what is proposed in
the Codes, he can give the authority a recommendation under section
48 (a practice recommendation) specifying the steps which, in his
opinion, the authority should take in order to conform to the