That is the warning from deputy information commissioner Graham Smith. Speaking last week at an LGC conference on implementing the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Smith said: 'Records management is the key to success. If you don't know what records you have, where they are and how to get to them you have little chance of meeting the new framework.'
Members and front-line staff alike must be made aware of the sort of requests they are likely to receive under the Freedom of Information regime, he added.
Third parties, such as contractors and consultants, must also be informed that requests for personal information about them may be made. Structures must be set in place to ensure all requests are handled within a 20-day timeframe, but different councils will require different solutions, Mr Smith added.