Tag Archive for PDP

How to be an FOI Officer

FOIMan brings you his latest article for PDP – and news of a new training course for FOI Officers.

When I first worked as an FOI Officer back in 2003, setting up procedures and systems in the Greater London Authority, the biggest problem was that nobody  (in the UK at least) had done this before. There was some guidance available but broadly speaking every organisation had to make up its approach to FOI from scratch. Things have improved a bit since then, but a lot of FOI Officers are still making it up as they go along to a great extent.

One of the ways that can improve is through academic research. This year we’ve been blessed with not one, but two studies of FOI practices. One is focussed on London’s local authorities, and the other on councils throughout the UK. In my latest piece for the Freedom of Information Journal, I’ve summarised the findings of these important pieces of research.

Once again, I’ll be answering your questions about FOI in a future issue of the Freedom of Information Journal, so do drop me a line if there’s a subject you’d like me to address.

I’m also pleased to announce that my working relationship with PDP is expanding. Earlier this year I was honoured to accept an invitation to head up the exam board for PDP’s Freedom of Information Practitioner Certificate. And even more exciting than that…this Autumn we will be launching a new one-day course for FOI Officers, based on my recently published The Freedom of Information Officer’s Handbook. The first dates for ‘The Role of The FOI Officer’ have been announced, beginning in London on 31 October, with subsequent courses running in Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast over the next year. If you’d like to discuss the best ways to manage and improve FOI performance, or want to more readily decipher decision notices, do please consider booking to join me on one of the days. Details of the course can be found on PDP’s website.

Don’t forget as well the other events I’ll be speaking at this Autumn, most of which are still taking bookings. I hope to see you there!

Free Chapter of The Freedom of Information Officer’s Handbook

FOIMan brings you a free chapter from his recently published book The Freedom of Information Officer’s Handbook.

Copies of The Freedom of Information Officer's HandbookI was thrilled last week to read a really positive review of my new book by Lynn Wyeth, Head of Information Governance at Leicester City Council (and well-known commenter on FOI and information rights matters) in the Freedom of Information Journal. She had lots of good things to say including:

What makes this book different to other books written about FOI is that it’s written by a practitioner for practitioners…

Describing it as a ‘desperately needed practitioners’ FOI bible’, Lynn finishes by saying:

Every FOI Officer should have a copy on their desk.

There are more reviews available on the Facet Publishing website if you are interested. I hope you’ll understand me drawing attention to these reviews: writing a book is a huge undertaking and a) given the work involved, it is heartwarming and (honestly) a relief to see such a positive reception, and b) I’d like as many people as possible to read it!

As an academic publisher, I understand that some will find Facet’s standard pricing of their output a little on the high side. I’ve been very conscious of this since first discussing the idea with them back in 2017. With this in mind, just a few things that I’m doing to try to ensure anyone who is interested can access at least some of its content:

Whether you’re studying for a qualification, need help with answering requests, or are just interested in FOI and access to information, I hope you’ll enjoy reading the free chapter provided here and perhaps the book itself.

FOIA 2.0? FOI in the Isle of Man

FOIMan’s latest article for PDP’s Freedom of Information Journal takes a detailed look at the Isle of Man’s new FOI Act and considers whether there is anything that other jurisdictions can learn from it.

freedom-of-information-graphic-smallAs reported here at the end of January, the Isle of Man’s new FOI law has come partially into force. For the first time, Manx residents – but only Manx residents – are able to make FOI requests to government departments there.

Every time that a country is added to the list of nations that have adopted freedom of information laws, it has the opportunity to learn from those that have gone before. Given its closeness to our shores, have those drafting the Isle of Man’s new open government rules been influenced by events here? Perhaps even more interesting, following the FOI Commission’s report, are there things that the UK government can learn from its neighbour?

These are questions I’ve considered in my latest long-read piece for PDP’s Freedom of Information Journal. As you’ll see, the challenges that the Isle of Man faces have shaped its legislation and resulted in some interesting innovations.

Ten things practitioners hate…

FOIMan writes about the ten things FOI requesters do which most annoy practitioners.

freedom-of-information-graphic-smallBack in March, the PDP Freedom of Information Journal published a piece by me listing the ten things that requesters hate most about the way their requests are handled. I provided access to a copy of the article here, and promised to bring you a further piece looking at this from the opposite perspective.

So here’s my latest piece for the Journal on Ten Things FOI Practitioners Hate Most. How do FOI requesters cause frustration for FOI Officers? Feel free to comment if you agree or disagree with these!