FOIMan corrects some common assumptions in handling FOI requests in this article for the Freedom of Information Journal.
In any line of work, particularly one which is labour intensive, it is common to develop shortcuts and rules of thumb to keep things moving. Over the last fifteen years a number of assumptions and ‘principles’ have grown up around the handling of FOI requests. Some of these are genuinely useful, at least some of the time, but others can make life harder for confused practitioners, chip away at the rights of applicants, or even actively hinder compliance.
In this article published in the Freedom of Information Journal in October, I examine four common assumptions about the handling of FOI requests and explain why they shouldn’t be taken at face value. The article looks at the following assertions:
- requests should always be handled in an applicant and purpose-blind manner
- if the requested information has been published, it doesn’t have to be provided
- if the information requested is incomplete, it is not held
- if someone asks for correspondence from an individual, letters signed by their secretary can be discounted.
If you were surprised to see any of the points listed here, do please have a read of Mythbusting FOI.