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Scotland considers widening Freedom of Information



The Scottish Government has launched a consultation that could make private sector suppliers of public services subject to FoI

Freedom of Information could be extended to some private companies and charities in Scotland, under proposals that the national government has put out to consultation.

The move is directed primarily at private and third sector organisations that provide public services, such as operating prisons, providing secure accommodation for children and grant-aided schools.

If approved, it would have implications for the information management strategies and technology used by the affected organisations, due largely to the obligation to provide the requested information or explain why not within 20 working days.

Minister for parliamentary business, Joe FitzPatrick, said: “The first minister has committed to leading the most open and accessible government that Scotland has ever had. In tandem with this commitment is our desire to make certain that organisations delivering key public service roles are themselves open, accountable and subject to scrutiny. We are therefore proposing to widen the scope of bodies covered by that legislation, to cover areas of education, care and security.

“We welcome feedback from the bodies themselves, stakeholders and the public. We are also interested to hear about what other bodies, either individually or collectively, should be considered in any future consultations.”

The proposal follows an extension to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act in April of last year, which made it applicable to a range of local authority arm’s length trusts that deliver services in leisure, culture and sport.

The extension of FoI is a controversial issue on both sides of the border. The UK act has been extended to academies and arm’s length government bodies such as the Financial Ombudsman, but calls to extend it to private providers of public services in England and Wales have been unsuccessful.

The consultation will be open until 4 September.

Image: By flickrtickr2009 from Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic


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