Tag Archive for Barmy FOI requests

Barmy FOI Requests

Question: When is an FOI request not an FOI request?
Answer: When it’s a marketing ploy…

“Could you please answer the following questions

1. Which of the following options best describes the Organisation’s policy for recruiting interim/contract staff:
a) We have a documented policy to recruit via specific agencies
b) We have a documented policy to recruit using [our company]
c) We have no fixed documented policy for recruiting interim or
contract staff

2. Is your HR Director / Head of HR aware of [our company] as an alternative to paying for recruiting interim staff?

3. Does your website contain a link to [our website]?”

A fellow FOI Officer received this recently. As they commented in their email to me, “an advert/spam email quite creatively wrapped up in an FOI request so we’re forced to respond to it.”

Thankfully we FOI Officers are equally creative. Quite rightly, the response made clear that whether the Director was “aware of something” was information not held. And question 3 was refused on the basis that the information was otherwise available to the requester (section 21). As the Officer commented, “A good use of our time I’m sure you’ll agree.”

And Government wonders why public authorities might be reluctant to bend over backwards to help businesses using FOI.

Barmy FOI Requests

Bit of Friday fun this, but quite illustrative of some of the themes I’ve covered in recent posts. An FOI Officer forwarded me the following FOI request received via the “email the FOI Officer” link on the authority’s web site:

“Dear Sir/Madam,

Under the Freedom of Information Act, please provide me with:

The direct e-mail address of which to submit Freedom of Information Requests

I understand that under the Act, I should be entitled to a response within 20 working days of your receipt of this email.

Some parts of this request may be easier to answer than others. Should this prove to be the case, I would ask that you release available data as soon as possible – rather than hold up the entire request.

I would prefer to receive this information electronically. If the decision is made to withhold some of this data using exemptions within the Act, please inform me of that fact and cite the exemptions used.

If you need any clarification then please contact me at the number below or via email. Under your section 16 duty to provide advice and assistance I would expect you to contact me if you find this request unmanageable in any way.

I would be grateful if you could confirm that you have received this request, and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.”

Yes, 195 words asking the authority to provide the email address that the requester had to use to submit the request. Who could have made such a request, do you think? You’ll like this, as a (in)famous magician used to say, not a lot…

“Yours faithfully,

Member of Parliament”

Yes, MPs are using their staffing expenses wisely, quite clearly.

If you have any stories to share about the most nonsensical FOI requests that you’ve received, do get in touch.  I suspect this will be a returning feature!