Introducing iCasework - the Freedom of Information Case Management System
Tuesday, 10 July 2012 15:08 Schroder, Johnathan
In April 2012 the council began using a new system for managing Freedom of Information (FOI) and Subject Access (SAR) requests. iCasework, the new system, allows for better case management, more consistent responses and greater analysis of statistics. What it wasn't meant to do was to publish the home address of Mr Mustard, cue panic, and the turning off of the publication scheme. You can try it here (click "disclosure log"), is it still unobtainable? Information wasn't meant to be so free.
In conjunction with the new system we have also recently published an FOI Policy, Redaction Policy and FOI Staff Guidance, all available in the Information Governance section of the intranet. Mr Mustard hasn't seen the redaction policy but can paraphrase it for you "Cross out anything useful to the requestor".
FOI Link Officers in each directorate manage the requests but all staff are required to assist with providing appropriate responses. We ask you to read through the policies and make sure you understand your responsibilities. Poor old FOI officers suffer because staff in services often don't give a fig about those pesky blogger requests.
As well as being a statutory requirement, responding to FOI requests is a corporate performance indicator which is reported on quarterly. Link Officers and Assistant Directors meet regularly to analyse the response times and look at ways of improving our responses to customers. Barnet Council frequently fail to meet statutory requirements.
If you receive a request for information that is not just 'business as usual' refer to the policies, speak to your Link Officer or contact the Standards and Information Rights Team for further guidance. What is Business as Usual exactly?
Improvements to the council's information governance mentioned in this newsletter, such as data quality and records management will all help the council to provide better responses to FOI requests more quickly. You can't send a better response to a FOI request. You should simply answer it exactly; there is no room for spin in FOI. The format of the response could be improved. Stop the nonsense of putting the answer in a Word document and instead put it directly into the email.
By the end of this month, the council will also be in a position to publish FOI responses on service-specific sections of the website. Somehow this might now be late.