FOI23/24 101 FOI Process Changes

Date published: 27/10/2023

FOI reference: 23/24 101

Date received: 09/10/2023

Date responded: 27/10/2023

Information requested

You have stated that the SQA “developed more efficient internal process for handling requests”. Please provide full details of these new, “more efficient” internal processes. Please also provide details of the previous processes, to allow for comparisons

Response

In 2020 our response rate for dealing with freedom of information (FOI) 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 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.

In summary, improvements 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 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 in 2021 and minor refinements have since been made that have been successful.

We received some complex requests which led to the process of dealing requests within the Corporate Office also being reviewed. The approach for searching, identifying and pulling together correspondence relating to an FOI request was considered by members of the Corporate Office and documented. Documentation of the process ensures that a consistent and manageable approach for FOI requests seeking correspondence is taken by the Corporate Office staff. The Head of the Chief Executive’s Office is the designated case manager responsible for providing information for FOI requests to the FOI team.

A copy of this guidance document has also been provided with this response.

The improvements put in place have allowed us to achieve a response rate of 97% of requests responded to on time for the last 12 months and 98% for the current financial year to date.

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. A small amount of text has been redacted from the Proposal document as it is out of scope.

Documents:

files_ccc/foi-23-24-101-corporate-office-guidance-for-foi-requests.pdf (97 KB)

files_ccc/foi-23-24-101-proposal-for-foi-handling-in-SQA-dec-2020-redacted.pdf (178 KB)