Wednesday, 21 January 2009

'Free-ish' - The Economist's verdict on FoI

An excellent article in this week's Economist details the publication's frustration in trying to prise information out of Transport for London using the Freedom of Information Act.
The Economist lists the excuses it was given for delays: “Please accept my apologies for the delay.”…“Unfortunately, I have been off for most of this week due to illness.”…“I hope that we will be in a position to respond by the end of next week.”…“I have been on leave.”…“The response is still being finalised.”
The Economist says "18 e-mails gave nine different reasons for missed deadlines; it was two months before a response arrived, in the negative, and three more before an internal review confirmed that refusal".
The article argues "non-compliance is endemic" and claims: "Part of the reason they can afford to be so relaxed is that the commissioner’s office is itself slow in pursuing complaints. This newspaper’s beef with TfL was referred to it last April but the matter is still being pondered."
Its verdict on FoI is summed up by its simple one word headline on the article: "Free-ish".

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