FOI23/24 042 FOI Process Changes

Date published: 18/08/2023

FOI reference: 23/24 042

Date received: 24/07/2023

Date responded: 18/08/2023

Information requested

I am writing to you to request the following information.

1) In several FOI recent responses, the SQA has stated that "we have made changes to our processes to improve our performance." in relation to responding to FOI requests on time. In that regard, what are these changes?

1a) Can you also please provide internal correspondence regarding these changes in regards to what sparked them, internal discussion on exactly what changes were required, and discussion of implementation, including with external stakeholders if any such discussion took place

Response

In 2020 our response rate for dealing with freedom of information requests within the 20-day statutory timescale declined from 95% to 86%. This was due to several factors, and we recognised that improvements needed to be made to our approach to achieve a consistently high response rate.  A paper outlining the issues and recommendations was submitted to the Executive Management Team (EMT) in December 2020 for consideration and the recommendations were approved for implementation.

A copy of the paper detailing the issues and the approach has been provided with this response for your information.

In summary, this comprised of the following:

the process was documented end-to-end
FOISA handling procedures were developed and are accessible to all staff
heads of service or senior managers are typically responsible for case managing requests in their area, overseen by a Director
face-to-face awareness training was introduced for case managers and other people who would benefit from an awareness session
a simpler management tracker was introduced for EMT to provide visibility of open requests

These changes were introduced during 2021 and minor refinements have been made since the implementation of the updated approach, which has been successful.

We received a small number of requests that were complex and wide ranging in their requirements. The handling of these requests identified some issues around the identification and collation of information, which led to delays in responding and we recognised that some additional improvements were needed.

The most significant of these improvements was made by the Chief Executive’s Office. The approach for searching, identifying and pulling together correspondence relating to an FOI request was considered by members of the Chief Executive’s Office and documented. Documentation of the process ensures that a consistent and manageable approach for FOI requests seeking correspondence is taken by the Chief Executive’s Office staff. The Head of the Chief Executive’s Office is assigned as the case manager responsible for providing information for FOI requests to the FOI team.

No discussion took place with external stakeholders regarding our internal processes.

The names of staff below Head of Service level have been redacted under section 38(1)(b) as it is considered personal information of a third party. We have also redacted some information which is out of scope of the request.

Documents:

files_ccc/foi-23-24-042-proposal-for-foi-handling-in-sqa-dec-2020-redacted.pdf (179 KB)