Freedom of Information Improvement Plan 2024

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 March 2024.

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Photo of Evelyn Tweed Evelyn Tweed Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government what steps it has made towards the goals of the freedom of information improvement plan 2024. (S6O-03270)

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

T he previous commissioner’s October progress report recognised the significant advances that had already been made, which have been commended by the new commissioner. That progress has been achieved despite a significant increase in requests. More than 5,000 requests were responded to in 2023, an increase of 20 per cent since 2021 and an increase of two thirds since the pre-pandemic period.

Our revised improvement plan, which was published in January, builds on earlier work. Since January, investment in key roles has enabled further improvements around advancing and maintaining response times and providing more focused staff training. We are building resilience and capability through longer-term projects.

Photo of Evelyn Tweed Evelyn Tweed Scottish National Party

Last December, the Scottish Information Commissioner had a backlog of 200 FOI appeal cases. What discussions has the Scottish Government had with the Scottish Information Commissioner to ensure that the backlog is cleared in a timely manner and that those awaiting decisions are updated on progress?

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

As members will be aware, the Scottish Information Commissioner is an independent regulator, who is appointed by His Majesty the King on the nomination of this Parliament. The Scottish Government therefore has no involvement in operational matters—rightly—regarding the commissioner’s discharge of his functions.

I am aware, however, that the commissioner has spoken publicly, including in his evidence to the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee on 22 February, about measures taken by his office to address that backlog issue.