Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) – research and policy development for implementation of the Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) aims to ‘promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public sector bodies’. In essence, it is about promoting good governance in government. The client faced a challenge over implementation of specific aspects of the Act, in particular with reference to exemptions. Policy was required to assist the client in meeting commercial and confidentiality interests of suppliers whilst upholding the ‘right to know’ of the general public.
What did we do?
Article 13 designed a questionnaire to gauge readiness, concerns and understanding of suppliers of the 44 Police Forces of England and Wales, for the imminent FOIA. Statistical analysis was used to highlight various aspects of readiness, concern and understanding, presented in a final report. The statistical evidence base was used to inform policy development, particularly relating to the areas of greatest concern for suppliers and provided a snap shot of the scale of the readiness, or lack of it, for the FOIA January 2005 deadline.
A legally verified process was designed to identify potential issues relating to FOIA. Three tests were developed so that throughout a typical tender process, a procurement officer could identify whether provision of information under the ‘right to know’ of the Act could prejudice commercial interest, confidentiality or the public interest. If this was the case, a further set of qualification questions were available to highlight the specific issue.
How did we break the cycle?
Article 13 delivered a supporting process and evidence base which allowed the client to turn a challenge into an opportunity, fostering improved relations with suppliers and increasing the understanding of procurement officers regarding the implications of the Act.
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© Article 13 2005