The Welsh government and five other public authorities in the UK have been forced to promise the information commissioner that they will speed up their responses to Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.
The Information Commissioner Office (ICO) revealed it has been reviewing 18 public sector bodies' FoI performance during a series of three-month reviews and that several were not up to scratch.
“Six authorities fell below the required standard and have been told to make changes or risk formal enforcement action,” said information commissioner, Christopher Graham.
The Welsh government has subsequently committed to ensuring that there are sufficient resources for staff to deal with FOI requests and that staff have received adequate training.
The others listed in the crackdown included several local councils such as Kent County, Cornwall, Nottingham City and North Somerset while East Lancashire NHS Trust also had to promise to improve.
At Nottingham City Council, for examples, fewer than four in ten of FOI requests were dealt with within the 20-day limit for responses, according to the ICO.
“Responding promptly to freedom of information requests is important for maintaining public confidence and achieving greater transparency,” added Graham.
Elsewhere, both the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office, which had both previously been chided by Graham, were found to have implemented the necessary FOI improvements.
Any public authorities that do not meet the requirements of these undertakings could find themselves slapped with enforcement notices while failure to comply with an enforcement notice could see the authority end up in the High Court.
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