This article outlines the process for staff to follow on receipt of a request for information. (Last updated 19/01/22)
1. The department is committed to meeting its FOI/EIR obligations through the publication of information proactively and responding to requests for information.
Receipt of request
2. FOI or EIR requests received directly by business areas must be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org immediately to enable the FOI Team in the Information Management Unit (IMU) to register and commission.
3. All new requests will be formally issued (emailed) by the FOI team for action to the relevant:
To: Grade 7 (head of business area)
CC: Grade 5 (head of division) or Grade 6 (where there is no grade 5)
4. The commissioning email to those above will include the unique request reference number, the statutory deadline and links to the relevant HPRM request container, letter templates and guidance. The linked HPRM request container, created by IMU, must be used as the sole location for all relevant documentation.
Preparation of draft response
5. Legislation requires the department to respond to all FOI and EIR requests within 20 working days unless specific circumstances apply. A draft response to each request should therefore be prepared by the relevant business area as soon as possible with advice from the FOI team as required.
6. Any third party consultations should therefore be undertaken as soon as possible.
7. If you are considering or applying any exemptions or exceptions, you may wish to discuss these with the FOI team as early as possible to ensure proper compliance.
8. To assist staff involved in responding to requests, FOI/EIR handling request guidance is available on the intranet and the FOI Team is available for further queries.
Approval and issue of response
9. All FOI and EIR draft responses must be approved by head of business area (HOB) who in turn seeks clearance from the relevant head of division (HOD) or HOB's Grade 6 where applicable. Only following approval and clearance should a response issue. Approval and clearance must not be delegated. In the event that the relevant HOD (or Grade 6 where applicable) is unavailable for clearance, then the draft response should be referred to the relevant head of group.
10. To enable due consideration to be given to draft responses, these should be sent to the relevant HOD (or Grade 6 where applicable) at least 5 working days before the statutory deadline.
11. When approved and cleared for issue, all responses must include the name of the business area along with a contact name. If issuing by email the response should be in pdf format. For consistency and good record keeping the subject title should follow the recognised naming convention of: FOI (or EIR) 2020/reference number Final Response. Responses must be saved in the relevant Content Manager container.
12. Responses should be issued promptly and copied to the FOI team at email@example.com.
Advice and assistance
13. The FOI Team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org