A course outlining the main features of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The course covers how Freedom of Information (FOI) requests can be made, how public authorities should handle requests and how public authorities can comply with the requirement to proactively publish information .
Lesson 1: Overview
- FOIA is designed to encourage a culture of openness and transparency in government and the public sector.
- Openness and transparency help to increase public trust in government, benefiting both the general public and the PAs.
- FOIA is overseen by the Information Commissioner Office (ICO).
- Public Authorities (PAs) are obliged to release information requested unless there is a good reason not to, and all requesters must be treated equally.
Lesson 2: Information requests
- PAs must handle FOI requests neutrally and in a timely fashion.
- While the spirit of FOIA is to promote openness and transparency, there are a number of acceptable reasons for a request to be denied.
- The ICO can intervene in cases of dispute between requester and PA. Both parties have the right to appeal decisions made by the ICO.
Lesson 3: Publication schemes
- FOIA encourages PAs to proactively and routinely publish information .
- PAs should follow the ICO’s publication scheme and definition documents to ensure compliance.
- Information not available through the PA’s publication scheme should be requested via a FOI request.