The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has been forced to name and shame several public authorities that failed to speed up the time taken to respond to freedom of information (FoI) requests.
The data protection watchdog monitored 33 organisations over a three-month period and singled out the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence and Birmingham City Council for special treatment.
These organisations will now have discussions with the ICO on appropriate "regulatory action", although financial penalties cannot be handed out as the offences fall under the Freedom of Information Act rather than the Data Protection Act.
Four other authorities - the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, the London Borough of Islington, Wolverhampton City Council and Westminster City Council - have been asked to sign undertakings to improve FoI response times.
The remaining 26 authorities maintained or improved response times and will escape further action.
"I am delighted that over two thirds of the authorities whose performance we have been monitoring have managed to overcome their problems," said information commissioner Christopher Graham.
"However, the remaining authorities have not done enough to convince us that they have a clear and credible plan for getting back on track. Over the next four weeks, we shall be discussing appropriate next steps with them."
A further 18 authorities are being monitored for another three-month period, and the ICO will make an announcement on them in the autumn.
"Responding promptly to FoI requests is key to delivering citizens' rights. Too many public authorities are taking too long to decide whether to release information or to refuse requests," said Graham.
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