The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, is pleased to share the roadmap for the Review of the Freedom of Information Act.
Minister McGrath noted:
"This document sets out an ambitious program of work to take place over the coming months. The review will be an open, collaborative process, with an invitation for all interested stakeholders to make their voices heard.
"Transparency is a core principle of public administration. This review provides a forum to reflect on the successes of the current system as well the challenges and issues that have arisen in practice. But beyond that, it will be a chance to consider ways of “doing transparency” that are fit for the modern world.
"I look forward to considering the input from across all sectors as the review progresses and urge anyone who has an interest in this important issue to take this opportunity to participate in the review and to shape the future of FOI in Ireland."
ENDSNotes to Editors
The first Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1997. The current legislation was enacted in 2014.
The current system has shown itself to be robust and effective on its own terms. In most years, roughly four out of every five requests decided on by public bodies are granted in full or in part. Full independent review by the Information Commissioner is available where a requester is dissatisfied with a decision, however levels of uptake on this have remained consistently and notably low in recent years, amounting to around 1% of requests annually.
Demand has increased year on year, reaching a peak of 41,176 FOI requests processed in 2019, while in 2020 even at the height of the pandemic 32,652 requests were processed.
A public consultation on the scope of the review will commence later this year, which will allow stakeholders to shape the issues and themes that will be considered, as well as to highlight any concerns they may have or any elements they feel are working well. Alongside this, a project to estimate the cost of FOI to the exchequer and a customer satisfaction survey will be commenced before year end.
Early in 2022, based on the insights and themes identified from the scoping survey, the Department will publish a consultation paper and a full public consultation will be undertaken. This will be accompanied by regional events to raise awareness of the review and extend its reach. Other research work will be undertaken alongside this, including an assessment of international best practices, focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders.
It is intended that research work will be concluded by the middle of 2022, and a report and recommendations presented to the Government and published at that point.
Further details on Freedom of Information:
Claire Godkin - Press Officer, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform - 085 806 3969, firstname.lastname@example.org