Councils can’t cost FOI

mikeonabeachI had two rather sweet replies to my most recent freedom of information requests to Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council.

I had asked them if they could tell me and the world+dog how much it cost to fulfil their legal obligations to provide info about stuff.

Oxford City Council said: “Dear Mr Magee

”Further to the acknowledgement below, I can respond to your FOI request received on 3rd January 2014 as follows :

”There is no specific budget for dealing with Freedom of Information Act requests. The Corporate Secretariat Manager acts as the Council’s Freedom of Information Officer – it is not a full-time role. He is supported by an administrative assistant who works 20 hours per week. In addition, individual departments have officers who provide information to the Freedom of Information Officer so that responses can be sent. It is very difficult to ascertain the costs involved.

”Yours sincerely

”Michael Newman
Corporate Secretariat Manager
Oxford City Council”

→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→

Oxfordshire County Council said much the same: “Dear Mr Magee,

”Thank you for your request of 3rd January 2014 in which you requested
information about the estimated annual cost of administering and
responding to Freedom of Information requests.

”Oxfordshire County Council does not hold information relating to your
request. This is because the role of administering freedom of information
requests is carried out as part of an officers wider role.

”In order to advise and assist, the Council has co-ordinators in each
Directorate of the Council who assist with FOI requests as well as other
administrative tasks. The Corporate Team has two members of staff who
advise on FOI legislation but they also have other roles, such as logging
corporate complaints which are made in writing or via the telephone as
well as responding to Information Commissioner and Local Government
Ombudsman investigations. Therefore it is not possible to provide you with
a figure, estimated or otherwise, as to the cost of administering FOI
requests in isolation.

“Please let me know if you have further enquiries. I would be grateful if
you could use the reference number given at the top of this email.

”Yours sincerely,

”Claire V Buller
Complaints and Freedom of Information Officer
Oxfordshire County Council
Law and Culture
County Hall”

You can make FOI requests of your own, at this excellent site,  here.

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