Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to Cabinet Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Waiting for an internal review by Cabinet Office of their handling of this request.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Cabinet Office,

Please could you provide all communications from the cabinet office to the PHSO and vice versa on Qualified Persons (designation with regard to the FoIA), post 1997.

This would include the names of Qualified persons, the date of their appointment and any communication between the two offices on the subject.

Yours faithfully,

[Name Removed]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Cabinet Office,

By law, you should of responded to my request.

Please do so, or I will refer to the ICO.

Yours faithfully,

[Name Removed]

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

I'm guessing it's taking this long for the MP's to consult the Clerks?

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

They could be too busy on away-days .....listening in to the private phone calls of anyone else that cares to ring an entirely-independent- and -definitely- not - linked-or controlled-by PASC or theCabinet Office

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Cabinet Office,

Referring to the ICO

Yours faithfully,

[Name Removed]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Cabinet Office,

The response to this request is long overdue.

By law, it should of had a response.

What are reasons that the Cabinet Office has decided to ignored the request?
.

Yours faithfully,

[Name Removed]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Apparently a WDTK request simply will not do:

18 November 2014

Case Reference Number FS50559082

Dear Mrs TO

Information request to the Cabinet Office

Thank you for your correspondence dated 22 October 2014 in which you complain about the above public authority’s failure to respond to your information request:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

When considering complaints about delayed or failed responses to information requests our priority is to ensure requesters receive a response as quickly as possible, where one has not been provided, and to monitor any persistent trends which might indicate that a public authority was routinely failing to respond within the statutory 20 working days permitted under section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Unfortunately, as there is no evidence to suggest that the public authority has received your request, we cannot assume that your request has been received.

I have written to the public authority to provide them with a copy of your original request, asking them to respond to you within 20 working days of receiving our letter. I enclose a copy of this letter for your information.

If the public authority responds and refuses to release the information you have asked for and you are dissatisfied, you may, after exhausting their internal complaints procedure, complain to us again.

If you do not receive a response within 20 working days please contact us quoting the above reference number.

Should you require any further assistance then please contact me on the number below.

Yours sincerely,

NM
Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office
Tel - 01625545595

____________________________________________________________________

The ICO's mission is to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

If you are not the intended recipient of this email (and any attachment), please inform the sender by return email and destroy all copies. Unauthorised access, use, disclosure, storage or copying is not permitted.
Communication by internet email is not secure as messages can be intercepted and read by someone else. Therefore we strongly advise you not to email any information, which if disclosed to unrelated third parties would be likely to cause you distress. If you have an enquiry of this nature please provide a postal address to allow us to communicate with you in a more secure way. If you want us to respond by email you must realise that there can be no guarantee of privacy.
Any email including its content may be monitored and used by the Information Commissioner's Office for reasons of security and for monitoring internal compliance with the office policy on staff use. Email monitoring or blocking software may also be used. Please be aware that you have a responsibility to ensure that any email you write or forward is within the bounds of the law.
The Information Commissioner's Office cannot guarantee that this message or any attachment is virus free or has not been intercepted and amended. You should perform your own virus checks.
__________________________________________________________________

Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Curiouser and curiouser.

WDTK is using the correct address, yet the Cabinet Office deny ever having receiving the request.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jto
Sent: 18 November 2014 15:19
To: FOI Team - Cabinet Office
Subject: FOIA request

Could you confirm that this us the correct address for FOIA requests.

FOI.Team@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk

Thank you

Jto

:::::

Yes it is

Regards

FOI Team

Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

It is a little odd that the Information Commissioner's Office state just:

"Unfortunately, as there is no evidence to suggest that the public authority has received your request, we cannot assume that your request has been received. "

I would have liked them to have also noted that the presence of this request on WhatDoTheyKnow serves as some independent third party evidence that the request was sent; it's akin to sending a letter with proof of posting.

In addition I can confirm that our logs show that the request was received by the Cabinet Office's email servers with a "250 ok" response shortly after it was sent. We are happy to provide full details to the Cabinet Office or the Information Commissioner's office to assist with their investigations.

I note the Cabinet Office uses a "messagelabs" email server, presumably to screen their messages. It may be this service has wrongly flagged the request as spam or has otherwise rejected it; if this is the case the Cabinet Office clearly need to act to ensure they are receiving messages sent to them by email. I would like to see the Cabinet Office "whitelist" messages sent from WhatDoTheyKnow and ensure they're never screened out. There's no reason to expect the experiences of our users are any different to requests from others, except our users have some evidence they did send their messages, others who made requests directly will typically not.

There is a discussion on improving the way WhatDoTheyKnow and similar sites show information about a message's delivery at

https://github.com/mysociety/alaveteli/i...

Regards,

--

Richard - WhatDoTheyKnow.com volunteer

Sent request to Cabinet Office again.

Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

I suggest following up explicitly seeking an acknowledgement of the request.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Thank you Richard.

I believe that the Cabinet Office has form on this lack of response.

I will bring this to the ICO's attention.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

To the ICO :

Please note this response and ensure that my request wasn't answered in the legally directed number of days - as The Cabinet Office provably received it.

FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

 

 

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  FOI320308

Dear J T OAKLEY

Thank you for your request for information. Your request was received
on 19/11/2014 and is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][email address]

 

 

show quoted sections

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

Your statement is incorrect - it was received by the Cabinet office - on September 19.

Please produce the files a matter of urgency, as it is not my fault if no one at the Cabinet Office addressed it.

:::::

In case you cannot see what is now in public view:

It is a little odd that the Information Commissioner's Office state just:

"Unfortunately, as there is no evidence to suggest that the public authority has received your request, we cannot assume that your request has been received. "

I would have liked them to have also noted that the presence of this request on WhatDoTheyKnow serves as some independent third party evidence that the request was sent; it's akin to sending a letter with proof of posting.

In addition I can confirm that our logs show that the request was received by the Cabinet Office's email servers with a "250 ok" response shortly after it was sent. We are happy to provide full details to the Cabinet Office or the Information Commissioner's office to assist with their investigations.

I note the Cabinet Office uses a "messagelabs" email server, presumably to screen their messages. It may be this service has wrongly flagged the request as spam or has otherwise rejected it; if this is the case the Cabinet Office clearly need to act to ensure they are receiving messages sent to them by email. I would like to see the Cabinet Office "whitelist" messages sent from WhatDoTheyKnow and ensure they're never screened out. There's no reason to expect the experiences of our users are any different to requests from others, except our users have some evidence they did send their messages, others who made requests directly will typically not.

There is a discussion on improving the way WhatDoTheyKnow and similar sites show information about a message's delivery at

https://github.com/mysociety/alaveteli/i...

Regards,

--

Richard - WhatDoTheyKnow.com volunteer

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

1 Attachment

 

Please find attached the reply to your recent FOI request

 

 

 

Regards

 

 

FOI Team

1 Horse Guards Road

London

SW1A 2HQ

 

Email – [1][email address]

 

 

show quoted sections

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

Thank you but:

1. There is no Section 16 guidance with your reply on how I might narrow my request.

However, I presume that you already have will noted that the time period is only that of the PHSO. And not any organisation pre-dating that exact name.

2. Therefore I ask that the time period be either:

A) January 1, 1993 to the date of request.

B) January1, 2002 until the date of request.

If it is necessary to narrow the time period further, since a period of years does not seem unduly excessive to locate what can only be a handful of legally required letters, then I will narrow it further to:

C) January 1, 2011 - to the date of request.

2. I would appreciate some detail and cogent evidence and detail of the workings of your estimate as an explanation of how you have arrived at your costs, which seem excessive.

I would draw your attention to the ICO's guidance:

https://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/gui...

A public authority is not obliged to search for, or compile some of the requested information before refusing a request that it estimates will exceed the appropriate limit. Instead, it can rely on having cogent arguments and/or evidence in support of the reasonableness of its estimate. It is good practice to give these arguments or evidence to the requestor at the outset to help them understand why the request has been refused. This reasoning is also likely to be required if a complaint is made to the Information Commissioner.

It is likely that any estimate will be largely or completely made up of the costs of staff time in carrying out the permitted activities.

A sensible and realistic estimate is one which is based on the specific circumstances of the case. In other words, it should not be based on general assumptions, for example, that all records would need to be searched in order to obtain the requested information when it is likely that staff in the relevant department would know where the requested information is stored.

Providing ‘cogent evidence’

37. It is useful if a public authority explains how it has calculated its estimate by explaining:

 its search strategy, for example:

o whether it has carried out any searches for the requested information;

o whether it has based its estimate on a random or representative sampling exercise;

o which departments or members of staff have been contacted;

o the search terms used when querying electronic records;

 why it needs to search the files/records it has referred to;

 how the information is stored, for example, whether the

information is held in paper or electronic files;

 how many files, boxes, documents, records or emails need to be reviewed and;

 how long it would take to determine whether the requested information is held or to locate, retrieve and extract it. For example, it is useful to detail the size of the relevant files; the average length of time it would take to review each file and the number of staff required.

38. It is not a statutory requirement to explain how the estimate has been calculated but it is beneficial to a public authority to do so for the following reasons:

 to enable the requestor to assess the reasonableness of the estimate. This may help to prevent a complaint to the ICO which will avoid further time and costs being expended on the same request;

 if a complaint is made to the Information Commissioner, then he will expect the level of detail, as set out above, to be provided. This may require the public authority to incur further costs in providing this detail. This task may also be complicated by changes in circumstances between the time of the request and the time of the ICO investigation;

 in any event, providing a suitable breakdown is likely to be required as part of a public authority’s statutory obligations under section 16 to provide advice and assistance (for more detail see the relevant content below).

Please therefore confirm that you have no computer written files of letters written to the PHSO - appointing qualified persons - which may be located by a word, or term, search.

And that there is no file/s on which the names of appointed qualified persons are kept.

::::

Please also state which system/s that you are using which precludes a computer search of the terms.

And which terms you have already used to enable you to answer my request (as above) in terms of staff and associated costs on the estimate of time taken, which you have provided,in order to answer the request,

::::

3. Could you please state which Section ( if any) of the FOIA precludes the public from knowing when qualified persons were appointed?

I would also be grateful for your explanation of why, should the public be informed of the appointments, that this action would stop the the government from carrying out its business on behalf of the public.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear Cabinet Office,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Cabinet Office's handling of my FOI request 'Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO'.

Dear FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

Thank you but:

1. There is no Section 16 guidance with your reply on how I might
narrow my request.

However, I presume that you already have will noted that the time
period is only that of the PHSO. And not any organisation
pre-dating that exact name.

2. Therefore I ask that the time period be either:

A) January 1, 1993 to the date of request.

B) January1, 2002 until the date of request.

If it is necessary to narrow the time period further, since a
period of years does not seem unduly excessive to locate what can
only be a handful of legally required letters, then I will narrow
it further to:

C) January 1, 2011 - to the date of request.

2. I would appreciate some detail and cogent evidence and detail of
the workings of your estimate as an explanation of how you have
arrived at your costs, which seem excessive.

I would draw your attention to the ICO's guidance:

https://ico.org.uk/for_organisations/gui...

A public authority is not obliged to search for, or compile some of
the requested information before refusing a request that it
estimates will exceed the appropriate limit. Instead, it can rely
on having cogent arguments and/or evidence in support of the
reasonableness of its estimate. It is good practice to give these
arguments or evidence to the requestor at the outset to help them
understand why the request has been refused. This reasoning is also
likely to be required if a complaint is made to the Information
Commissioner.

It is likely that any estimate will be largely or completely made
up of the costs of staff time in carrying out the permitted
activities.

A sensible and realistic estimate is one which is based on the
specific circumstances of the case. In other words, it should not
be based on general assumptions, for example, that all records
would need to be searched in order to obtain the requested
information when it is likely that staff in the relevant department
would know where the requested information is stored.

Providing ‘cogent evidence’

37. It is useful if a public authority explains how it has
calculated its estimate by explaining:

 its search strategy, for example:

o whether it has carried out any searches for the requested
information;

o whether it has based its estimate on a random or representative
sampling exercise;

o which departments or members of staff have been contacted;

o the search terms used when querying electronic records;

 why it needs to search the files/records it has referred to;

 how the information is stored, for example, whether the

information is held in paper or electronic files;

 how many files, boxes, documents, records or emails need to be
reviewed and;

 how long it would take to determine whether the requested
information is held or to locate, retrieve and extract it. For
example, it is useful to detail the size of the relevant files; the
average length of time it would take to review each file and the
number of staff required.

38. It is not a statutory requirement to explain how the estimate
has been calculated but it is beneficial to a public authority to
do so for the following reasons:

 to enable the requestor to assess the reasonableness of the
estimate. This may help to prevent a complaint to the ICO which
will avoid further time and costs being expended on the same
request;

 if a complaint is made to the Information Commissioner, then he
will expect the level of detail, as set out above, to be provided.
This may require the public authority to incur further costs in
providing this detail. This task may also be complicated by changes
in circumstances between the time of the request and the time of
the ICO investigation;

 in any event, providing a suitable breakdown is likely to be
required as part of a public authority’s statutory obligations
under section 16 to provide advice and assistance (for more detail
see the relevant content below).

Please therefore confirm that you have no computer written files of
letters written to the PHSO - appointing qualified persons - which
may be located by a word, or term, search.

And that there is no file/s on which the names of appointed
qualified persons are kept.

::::

Please also state which system/s that you are using which precludes
a computer search of the terms.

And which terms you have already used to enable you to answer my
request (as above) in terms of staff and associated costs on the
estimate of time taken, which you have provided,in order to answer
the request,

::::

3. Could you please state which Section ( if any) of the FOIA
precludes the public from knowing when qualified persons were
appointed?

I would also be grateful for your explanation of why, should the
public be informed of the appointments, that this action would stop
the the government from carrying out its business on behalf of the
public.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

[Name Removed]

FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of Freedom of Information request Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO.txt

    6K Download View as HTML

 

 

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  IR320306

Dear J T OAKLEY

Thank you for your request for an internal review. Your request was
received on4/12/2014 and is being dealt with under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][email address]

 

 

show quoted sections

FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of Freedom of Information request Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO.txt

    6K Download View as HTML

PLEASE NOTE – THE REFERENCE NUMBER FOR THIS CASE IF IR320308 AND NOT 306
AS PREVIOUSLY ISSUED. PLEASE IGNORE PREVIOUS EMAIL AND APOLOGIES FOR ANY
INCONVENIENCE CAUSED

 

 

 

CABINET OFFICE REFERENCE:  IR320308

Dear J T OAKLEY

Thank you for your request for an internal review. Your request was
received on4/12/2014 and is being dealt with under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This email is just a short acknowledgement of your request.

If you have any queries about this email, please contact the FOI team.
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

Knowledge and Information Management Unit

Cabinet Office

E: [1][email address]

 

 

show quoted sections

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team - Cabinet Office,
Thank you.

Presumably you have noted the date that the request was received and thererefore I am encouraged that this time there will be no confusion on the part of the Cabinet Office as to whether or not you have received the request.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The exemption in s36(2)(b) depends upon the reasonable opinion of a “qualified person” that disclosure would or would be likely to have the prejudicial effect referred to in the section. .....the relevant definition of a qualified person is that in s36(5)(o)(iii), namely, “any officer or employee of the public authority who is authorised for the purposes of this section by a Minister of the Crown”

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/GRC...

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

There seems to be something of a backlog at the Cabinet Office:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30898510

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

' Cabinet Office and MoJ – the departments responsible for the government’s transparency and FoI policies respectively – were next, withholding information in full in response to more than 50% of requests...'

More than 50percent of requests? Shocking,

Especially as it seems to have no way of finding Qualified Person appointments, which cannot be that numerous.

http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk...

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

'I was completely ignored by some and the Cabinet Office sent an unhelpful and bureaucratic reply....'

Chris Cook BBC

He can count himself lucky the Cabinet Office wasn't stating that they never received his request.

The 'old' PHSO had its executive to determine its S36's.

Presumably a committee decision because it does not distinguish the Ombudsman as the qualified person alone.

So either Ann Abrahams( previous Ombudsman) or Dame Julie Mellor (present) would have needed a letter from the Miinister changing the requisite set up and conferring Qualified Person status.

It seems that the Cabinet Office cannot it supply this letter, which should be relatively easy to find.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team - Cabinet Office,

Since this request has been dragging on for some time..since the Cabinet Office maintained that it had not received the request - which was proved to be incorrect by the WDTK registering system, could the Cabinet Office now make a renewed effort to answer what is a relatively simple request please?

After the prolonged non-answering of my request, I would draw your attention to a recent Newsnight programme and an article in the BBC website in which the Cabinet Office is featured and hope that it now wants to improve its somewhat battered reputation, so that the request can be referred to the ICO and following Tribunal - if necessary.

:::

'Officials might argue there are appeals processes, which could have resolved this.

Bureaucratic reply
But the Act anticipates that people should receive answers in 20 days, not after months of wrangling. The appeals are supposed to be the exception, not the norm.

I do not think any of the initial refusals we received were reasonable, except for the two full replies.

Still pretending to be a member of the public, I went back to departments after the initial reply, and one - the Ministry of Defence - replied very quickly with a correction.

Staff there genuinely seem to have just misread my request. But others did not.

I was completely ignored by some and the Cabinet Office sent an unhelpful and bureaucratic reply.

The big picture here is that the way the Act operates is capricious for users, and officials look to brush off requests.

Chris Cook, BBC

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

This is nothing new. Government organisations and the Cabinet Office regularly use the standard brush off of 'it would take too long" if there are requests they find uncomfortable. They also use the time delay ruse. There is a backlog at The Cabinet Office? Presumably because the staff are too busy having days out to Millbank Tower. So you think you can go to the ICO for help? The ICO is a white elephant, which costs the taxpayer millions but has no statutory power, and therefore is quite useless. When The Home Office ignored my request, I went to the ICO for help. The Home Office ignored them too and the ICO informed me there was nothing they could do about it? I was forced to go to Court.when will these departments actually be held accountable? They should be fined every time they are late! They now know they can quite happily get away with it. Clearly there is some kind of cover up going on JT Oakley!

FOI Team Mailbox, Cabinet Office

1 Attachment

Please find attached the reply to your  FOI request, originally sent out
on the 3rd December 2014. I reattach it for ease of reference.

 

 

 

Regards

 

 

FOI Team

1 Horse Guards Road

London

SW1A 2HQ

 

Email – [1][email address]

show quoted sections

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Haha.. After stating that they did not receive the request, they now seem to be pretending that they haven't read the clarification.

Honestly, you couldn't make it up!

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Thank you but you still seem to be trying to answer the original request and but ignoring the clarification of it - sent on December 4, for the review of the original request.

Even if you are mistakenly logging the clarification as a second request, then it should have been file- numbered and I should of received a reply to it by now.

:::

So are you stating that you have not received the December 4 clarification for the review?

Would you like me to check with WDTK that you have, in fact received it - and it has not got lost in your system again?

Clearly it would help to know if there is a consistent pattern for the Home Office in losing requests and the clarifications of the request, (after failing to apply Section 16 ) made via WDTK.

:::

Taking the clarification into account, surely two appointment letters to Ann Abrahams and Dame Julie Mellor cannot involve that amount of work? As these were the only two Ombudsmen recently appointed.

If so, then please be specific as to what the search will involve, as you also have not given an estimate as to how you have arrived at the figure given, or addressed the choice of the three time periods given in the clarification.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Apologies for Home Office- read Cabinet Office.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The Cabinet Office certainly seems to be keeping up to its reputation:

Cabinet Office blamed for 'serious shortcomings' on FOIA

The Cabinet Office is supposed to be leading the government's drive towards greater openness, but today it has been criticised by the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham for "serious shortcomings" in its handling of freedom of information requests.

Mr Graham says the Cabinet Office's poor performance is "particularly disappointing" and has announced today that it will now be subject to a period of intensive monitoring by his office to ensure improvement.

This is the second time the Cabinet Office has been targeted in this way due to persistent problems with its FOI processes. Three years ago it signed an undertaking to rectify its failings in dealing with information requests.

Mr Graham has also added two other authorities to the Commissioner's monitoring list - the Crown Prosecution Service and Hackney Council.

Frustrated
The decision will probably come as little surprise to those who have read recent decisions from the Commissioner's office drawing attention to the Cabinet Office's frequent failure to comply with its legal obligations.

Nor will it surprise frustrated requesters who have been seeking information from the Cabinet Office, many of whom have then complained to the Commissioner (and I should declare an interest as one of them).

There are numerous FOI officers in other public authorities who are angered by the Cabinet Office's track record and the contrast with its rhetoric on increasing transparency. They regard it as setting an extremely bad example to the rest of the public sector. There's a widespread opinion that it has been allowed to get away with failings that other FOI units would not be.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25...

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

If you do not see it necessary to reply, I will forward directly to the ICO

For not complying with Section 16 ...help and assistance.

And ignoring the clarification - which you seemingly needed in order to process the request.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

My reference :
Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO/WDTK/19/09/2014

::::

Cabinet office references :FS50559082

Second reference also given: FOI320308

Report a concern about how an organisation handled an FOIA request
1. Details of the organisation your concern is about
Organisation:   Cabinet Office   
Contact name:     Roger Smethurst

Address:      1 Horse Guards Road London
Postcode:    SW1A 2HQ  
Telephone:   020 7276 2294 
  
Email:     foi.team@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk

2. Your relationship with the organisation

Member of public
     

3. What is your concern?

Please read the entire thread:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Firstly didn't answer, yet provably received information.( WDTK can trace receipt).
No Section 16 - Guidance -help and assistance
Completely ignored my helpful clarification of the request in its review.
Logically if I have reduced the time element inherent in the request, the estimate of time needed to fund the files must be substantially reduced as well.
The Cabinet Office does not receipt request, despite being technically logged as having received the request by WDTK.
And has seemingly ignored the following communication.

Select the option that best describes your concern.

The organisation:

Isn't conforming to time FOIA time determination, Section 16 and hasn't addressed the clarification.
     
Please send us copies of relevant documents that support your concern.

See link:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...
4. What have you done to raise your concern with the organisation?

See link: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...
     
Please send copies of any documents you have showing how you raised your concern with the organisation.

See link: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

5. What did the organisation say?

See link: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...
     
Please send copies of any documents you have showing the organisation’s response to your concern.

See link: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...
6. Reference number
Please tell us any reference number that the organisation has given you, eg account number, policy number etc.

There is only one request:

FS50559082
FOI320308
   
7. Your details
Or, if you’re filling this in on behalf of someone else, put their details here.
Title:      xxx
First name:      xxxx
Last name:    XXXX
Address:      xxxx
Postcode:      XXXX
Daytime telephone:     Xxx
Email:    xx

8. Declaration
▪ I have included all the necessary supporting evidence.
▪ I understand that the ICO may need to share the information I have provided so they can look into my concern. I have indicated any documents or information that I don’t want the ICO to share.
▪ The information I have provided is accurate, to the best of my knowledge.
▪ I understand that the ICO will electronically store the information relating to my concern including the documents I have provided and keep the electronic records for two years, or for longer if it is appropriate. The ICO will destroy the original hard copies after six months.
I agree: Jt Oakley
9. Sending your form to us
By email
1. Fill in this form and save it to your computer.
2. Open a new email, with ‘Concern about an organisation’s handling of personal information’ in the subject line.
3. If you have all your supporting documents electronically, attach them to your email.
4. Email the completed form to casework@ico.org.uk

By post​
If you have only paper copies of any of your supporting documents, print this form and post it with all your supporting documents to:
Customer Contact
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

FOI Team Mailbox, Cabinet Office

1 Attachment

Please find attached the reply to your recent internal review request

 

 

 

Regards

 

 

FOI Team

1 Horse Guards Road

London

SW1A 2HQ

 

Email – [1][Cabinet Office request email]

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Cabinet Office request email]

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Thank you but you do not seem to have taken the clarification of a reduced timespan into account.

Or applied Section 16

I have referred the clarified request to the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

Could this get any worse?
As I said before, and I will say it again - there doesn't seem to be a letter of appointment of qualified persons.
Does that mean DJM is carrying out her responsibilities illegally?
Have you requested this information from the PHSO JT Oakley?
The Dame should have a copy of her letter?

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The PHSO cannot provide a letter but maintains that Dame Julie Mellor automatically gets to be a qualified person - without a letter.

Yet the advice seems to be that all qualified persons have to be made so by a Minister responsible.

The first PHSO set -up seems to state that FOIA qualification of a response is a board decision. Whether that is singly, or a complete board is a moot point.

But when the PHSO was changed to incorporate Health I would have assumed that a letter would have been sent to the Ombudsman from the Minister responsible - just as it is to other qualified persons.

And been updated when Dame Julie Mellor became Ombudsman.

As you know the PHSO seems to maintain that it doesn't need to adopt the same procedures as other government bodies. And therefore presumably Dame Julie Mellor automatically appoints herself and so doesn't need a letter.

But strangely enough the Minister has recently appointed Steve Brown as a qualified person ..and that letter HAS been produced in answer to a request.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

So it boils down to whether you believe that Dame Julie Mellor needed a letter from the Minister or not.

And if she did need one, the authorities are doing their best to cover up the lack of an appointment letter when she signed off the request about her formal PASC meetings with Bernard Jenkin.

Of course, the private off-the-record meetings that she held with him..... ( according to in-house file information) would not have been subject to FOIA requests, or, indeed, any qualified person judgement.

But then secret meetings never are.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The Cabinet Office has just sent the same letter to the ICO...withit apparently reading the clarifications or offer to minimise a search.

A letter has arrived from the ICO:

Dear Jt Oakley

The Cabinet Office has provided me with a copy of its internal review response (see attached) to your request concerning the appointment of a qualified person at the PHSO.

I would be grateful if you would please confirm whether you wish to appeal against the Cabinet Office’s continued decision to refuse the request under section 12 of the Act.

Please contact me if you wish to discuss anything further.

Regards,

Michael Avery Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9

:::::::

My response to the ICO:

Certainly.

As stated the CO is only applying itself to the initial request, has not taken heed of the clarification and had not complied with Section 16 - as previously stated.

I thought, when I forwarded the request to the ICO that it would have considered my argument.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Jt Oakley

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Apparently the Cabinet Office is incapable of finding two letters ... written to Ann Abrahams and Dame Julie Mellor , on their appointments as qualified persons - as its filing system is far too complex.

Personally I would have thought it would have a file labelled 'qualified persons' for easy reference, since the Ombudsman has only been in office since 2012.

::

Still, this is the Cabinet Office, which is currently unable to find files on Cyril Smith either:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cri...

:::

Personally I was surprised that the ICO had not asked the Cabinet Office to apply itself to the narrowed request.the information was provided as well as a link to the request,

..After all,there is no comparison between Dame Julie Mellor and Cyril Smith, so the ICO should of found it a straightforward case.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

On 17 Mar 2015, at 15:50, casework@ico.org.uk wrote:

Dear Ms Oakley

Thank you for your email. The Commissioner will carry out an investigation into the Cabinet Office’s use of section 12.

From my understanding of the internal review the Cabinet Office was aware of some suggestion to reduce the scope of the request, only that it did not consider them sufficient. However it’s not clear whether it considered in full the suggestions in your email of 4 December 2014 so I will clarify this.

Regards,

Michael Avery Case Officer

Answer

Then it should answered the reasoning in the scope and applied Section 16

I really can't understand why the Cabinet office does not have a file labelled 'qualified people
..' Just how many of them could there be?

And cannot trace any mention of Dame Julie Mellor, or Ann Abrahams - the previous ombudsman - relating to their appointments.

In the absence of such appointment letters it's possible to construe that they were never made and the Cabinet O ffice is trying to cover up the fact.

Surely that cannot be the case?

Jt Oakley
Info

[Name Removed] (Account suspended)

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Could you please tell me why it is impossible for the Cabinet Office not to search it's electronic files for two names in recent Cabinet Office appointments.

I would like to know how the vast amount of time you state is necessary to find two simple documents..has been worked out.

Yours sincerely,

[Name Removed]

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

COVER UP UK.

We look down our noses at some third world governments - but is the set up and management of data in this country any better?

This FOI demonstrates why the PHSO is an utter administrative farce. At least you got a reply from the Cabinet Office. I have yet to get an answer to one of my emails or Recorded Delivery letters. I started emailing them three years ago.

No resolution.

Fiona Watts@MagnaCarta300

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Still waiting since I referred the matter to the ICO on March 17.

Seems the Cabinet Office treats the ICO as it treats everyone else.

.....With contempt.

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

JT Oakley. This might be of interest to https://www.cfoi.org.uk

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Thank you CA.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

May31 2015

To the ICO..which is still pondering on whether or not the Cabinet Office is conforming to the FOIA.
::::

I think that the Cabinet Office have had long enough - since December 2914- to consider their following investigation of exactlywhy its FOIA officer didn't note the redefined scope of the request.

Why is the ICO seemingly giving preferential treatment to the Cabinet Office?

Doesn't the FOIA apply to it?

It demeans the reputation of the ICO if it just rolls over for this constantly mal-performing organisation.

Regards

JtOakley

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Errata: 2014.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Thank you for your tenacity! Appreciate your tine and expertise!

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

And thank you for being polite.

I only wish that the Cabinet Office would be likewise - and confirm to the FOIA Act.

And that the ICO would do something about it.

Fiona Watts left an annotation ()

RE: The Cabinet Office and the ICO.

One has to ponder what are their targets? To serve the public's interests or their own?

How do they keep their jobs when they demonstrate so much weekly disorganisation AND an inability to protect data in respect of UK data laws?

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Would it be that some are employed to overlook anything embarrassing to the government ?

And that is their default position?

D. Speers left an annotation ()

As usual....all the dressing is in the window, sadly there's still nothing in the room!

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

A QP seemingly has to receive a letter if appointment from the Minister concerned. ,....

ICO guidance:

A QP has not been authorised for this PA
(i.e. the PA is not listed in s36(5)(a)-(n), or in the archived list produced by the Ministry of Justice and there has been no specific authorisation by a Minister previously)
The PA should request an authorisation from a Minister of the Crown via the most relevant government department. If in doubt they should contact informationrights@justice.gsi.gov.uk

The PA should request an authorisation from a Minister of the Crown via the most relevant government department. If in doubt they should contact informationrights@justice.gsi.gov.uk

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

Yet the Cabinet Office still cannot find ( and provide a response) with the appointment letters if the last two Ombudsmen - Abrahams and Mellor.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

"Curiouser and curiouser"

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The ICO is on the case.. Very slowly :

June17,2015

Dear ICO

This may explain what happens to requests ..and....in particular, mine.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d42d3c68-141d-...

It is apparently stated in the Financial Times that if the Cabinet Office doesn't respond to a request within three months, the request vanishes off its system.

Therefore when the CO was claiming that it had never received my request via WDTK....(disproved by WDTK which logged a receipt), the Cabinet Office system may have already wiped my September 2014 request.

I think that considering the continuing circumstances, you should now issue a Decision Notice to an organisation which is clearly trying to avoid complying to the FOIA.

Regards

Jto

::::

Subject: Re: ICO Case FS50559082 - Cabinet Office[Ref. FS50559082][Ref. FS50559082]

Well nothing 'imminent' from the CO so far ICO case officer

Meanwhile, here's the ICO's own advice on Qualified Persons:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

May I draw your attention to :

(i.e. the PA is not listed in s36(5)(a)-(n), or in the archived list produced by the Ministry of Justice and there has been no specific authorisation by a Minister previously)

The PA should request an authorisation from a Minister of the Crown via the most relevant government department. If in doubt they should contact informationrights@justice.gsi.gov.uk

Surely it could not be that that the Minister concerned never appointed either of the last two Ombudsmen ....and that is why the Cabinet Office cannot provide the letters of appointment?

Regards

Jto

On 11 Jun 2015, at 16:40, casework@ico.org.uk wrote:

Dear Jto

The Cabinet Office has assured the Commissioner its submissions are due imminently. However, the Commissioner considers that the Cabinet Office has had sufficient time to consider its position and so has drafted a decision notice which upholds your complaint.

Please note that in the time it takes to issue this decision notice the Cabinet Office might provide its submissions, which means the notice will have to be halted.

Regards,

Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office,

::::

I think that the Cabinet Office have had long enough - since September 2O14- to consider their following investigation if why the FOIA officer didn't note the redefined scope of the request.

Why is the ICO seemingly giving preferential treatment to the Cabinet Office?

Doesn't the FOIA apply to it?

It demeans the reputation of the ICO if it just rolls over for this constantly mal-performing organisation.

Regards

Jt o

On 17 Mar 2015, at 15:50, casework@ico.org.uk wrote:
Dear Jto

Thank you for your email. The Commissioner will carry out an investigation into the Cabinet Office?s use of section 12.

From my understanding of the internal review the Cabinet Office was aware of some suggestion to reduce the scope of the request, only that it did not consider them sufficient. However it?s not clear whether it considered in full the suggestions in your email of 4 December 2014 so I will clarify this.

Regards, Case Officer
Information Commissioner?s Office,

Certainly.

As stated the CO is only applying itself to the initial request, has not taken heed of the clarification and had not complied with Section 16 - as previously stated.

I thought, when I forwarded the request to the ICO that it would have considered my argument.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Jto

On 17 Mar 2015, at 13:15, casework@ico.org.uk wrote:
Dear Jto

The Cabinet Office has provided me with a copy of its internal review response (see attached) to your request concerning the appointment of a qualified person at the PHSO.

I would be grateful if you would please confirm whether you wish to appeal against the Cabinet Office?s continued decision to refuse the request under section 12 of the Act.

Please contact me if you wish to discuss anything further.

Regards,

Case Officer
Information Commissioner?

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Dear Jto

The Cabinet Office has now provided its submissions, they arrived before the Commissioner issued his decision notice so the investigation will continue for the time being.

The basis of the Cabinet Office’s submissions is the phrasing in your request of “all communications…on Qualified Persons”. This would encompass documents as well as correspondence, and includes a variety of different departments within the Cabinet Office. The submissions are such that they give a strong indication that section 12 applies but there is not sufficient information to make a decision either way. Under the circumstances I will need to obtain further information from the Cabinet Office before this case can be resolved.

I understand you have doubts about the Cabinet Office’s conduct in this matter but the Commissioner must uphold the Act, and if a request should be refused then it is appropriate to establish whether that is the case.

Regards,
Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office,

::::

Dear case officer

That is incorrect

It's qualified persons at the PHSO only.

And the request is clarified in the second paragraph as to what the request is about - and should include.

Clearly it doesn't mean every mention of QP's in CO files ... to all organisations.

:::

And the CO still doesn't seem to be following the December 4, clarifications.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

On 17 Jun 2015, at 10:55, casework@ico.org.uk wrote:

Dear Ms JTO

Both the Cabinet Office and the Commissioner are aware that the request is only concerned with the appointment of qualified persons at the PHSO. The point I was trying to make is that the request asks for all communications on the subject of QPs, rather than communications purely on the appointment of QPs, or something similar which would have a much reduced scope.

Contrary to your statement “And the CO still doesn't seem to be following the December 4, clarifications”, the estimate was based on the reduced scope you suggested.

Regards,
Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office,

::

Dear Case officer

That is incorrect

It's qualified persons at the PHSO only.

And the request is clarified in the second paragraph as to what the request is about - and should include.

Clearly it doesn't mean every mention of QP's in CO files to all organisations.

The CO cannot take the first sentence only.

The request has to be answered holistically. Therefore the two sentences have to be read in conjunction.

If they don't answer the request this time, I will just rephrase and ask it again.... By pointing out that isolated sentences can't be chopped away at random to fit a response.

In addition, there can only be three letters of appointment.

And what are the chances of the Cabinet Office having any long drawn out correspondence with the PHSO as - according to the PHSO - the Ombudsman's QP appointment was a given ....and didn't have to be ok'd by anyone?

So there could be very little correspondence about QP's between them.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Or is the PHSO mistaken in its statement?

That she was appointed as QP on January 3, 2012?
and , as the ICO guidance says, it has to be by a Minister.

So, at least, there should be no problem providing the letter of appointment for Dame Julie Mellor.

Regards

Jto

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Dear Mrs jTO

Asking for “all communications” about QPs means that the scope goes way beyond just information about the appointment of QPs. Instead it includes anything which is about or relates to QPs which was sent between the Cabinet Office and the PHSO. This is both the Cabinet Office’s and the Commissioner’s view of the request.

I note your comment that it should be seen holistically and viewed in conjuncture with the second sentence. However, this sentence only states what you wish to see included, it does not limit the scope of the request as detailed in the first sentence. The Act asks that a request describe the information that is requested, and the description in your request is for all communications, not just information relating to the appointment of QPs.

If you are not interested in receiving all communications about QPs then I would advise amending the wording of the request so that the scope is much reduced.

Regards,

Case officer

:::::::

I am wondering whether you have access to the WDTK site as the request title sems to have been ignored?

The request is entitled:

Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO

This is the absolute guide to the terms of the request.

The subsequent paragraphs refer to the communications between the Cabinet Office and the PHSO on the appointments made during the time scale. As far as I know, there are three of them.

Nothing else.

Surely there a dated list of appointed QP's 's in existence?

I simply cannot understand how it can be widened to include anything that the Cabinet office 'other communications' sent to the PHSO... Not on the subject of these three Qualified persons.

And it's clarified already:

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Thank you but you do not seem to have taken the clarification of a
reduced timespan into account in December.

Or applied Section 16

I have referred the clarified request to the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Jt Oakley

......And yet another clarification, which has seemingly been ignored.....

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Could you please tell me why it is impossible for the Cabinet
Office not to search it's electronic files for two names in recent
Cabinet Office appointments.

I would like to know how the vast amount of time you state is
necessary to find two simple documents..has been worked out.

Yours sincerely,

::::

I've clarified it and restricted it already.

::::

So what exactly is it that the Cabinet Office doesn't understand at this point?

Remember, the Cabinet Office has already broken the law.

It timed out of the request.

And If it had any confusion about the request, then it should have applied Section16, R 9 at an early stage.

Something the recent Tribunal judge was most keen on at the recent tribunal.....As I don't think Tribunals like to see an obvious waste of public money. When PA's don't comply with the law.

:::

The CO could apply these Sections as it has been nothing but obstructive.....stating that hadn't received the request, then going on to ignore the clarification... The December clarification that is.

So it had nine months to 'help and assist' and six months to think about the clarifications.

And since the PHSO says it doesn't need any letters of appointment, ....despite the ICO guidance, it considerably narrows the scope already.

Regards

JTO

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The questions are:

Did the Cabinet Office offer me the legally required help and assistance due?

See S16 and R9 below ...

And did the ICO let it ignore this part of the Act - because the Cabinet Office has 'Special privileges', not allowed to other PA's as regards the law?

And did the Cabinet Office

1. ignore the request entirely,

2. state that it hadn't received it

3. ignore the clarifications

4. and is it now going to state that..... it didn't receive the clarifications either.
and therefore has to take no account of of them - in its mooted response?

::::

What do section 16 and regulation 9 say?
Section 16 sets out the duty on public authorities to provide advice and assistance, as far as it is reasonable to expect the public authority to do so, to anyone who is considering, or has made, a request for information to it.

It also states that any public authority which complies with the Section 45 Code of Practice in relation to the provision of advice or assistance is considered to have carried out its duty under section 16.

Regulation 9 similarly requires a public authority to provide advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so, to applicants and prospective applicants. The Regulation goes further however in that it requires that where a public authority decides that an applicant has formulated a request in too general a manner, it should ask the applicant as soon as possible and in any event no later than 20 working days after the date of receipt of the request, to provide more particulars in relation to the request; and assist the applicant in providing those particulars.

More...
https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

Link to this

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

From the ICO ..

Dear Jto

I will address your points in turn:

I am wondering whether you have access to the WDTK site as the request title sems to have been ignored?
The request is entitled:

Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO

This is the absolute guide to the terms of the request.

The subsequent paragraphs refer to the communications between the Cabinet Office and the PHSO on the appointments made during the time scale. As far as I know, there are three of them.

Nothing else.

Surely there a dated list of appointed QP's 's in existence?

I simply cannot understand how it can be widened to include anything that the Cabinet office 'other communications' sent to the PHSO... Not on the subject of these three Qualified persons.

ICO Ans:

The title on WDTK does not change the wording of your request. The Commissioner must adhere to the definition of a request under section 8 of the Act, which states that a request “must describe the information requested”. The information you have described is “all communications” about QPs, and having a title that doesn’t match this exactly – or a second sentence which states what information you would like to see included – does not change what you put in the first sentence of the request. No party has widened the request, this is the wording you chose and it is reasonable to use that until you elect to change it.

To reduce the scope you would need to explicitly state what reduction you would agree to, as you did on 4 December 2014 with regards to the time span. Regarding this correspondence you sent to the Cabinet Office:

Dear FOI Team Mailbox,

Could you please tell me why it is impossible for the Cabinet
Office not to search it's electronic files for two names in recent
Cabinet Office appointments.

I would like to know how the vast amount of time you state is
necessary to find two simple documents..has been worked out.

Yours sincerely
Jto

ICO Ans:

This does not explicitly state that you wish to alter the wording of your request so that it no longer includes all communications on QPs. Until you do so, the scope will remain as I have detailed previously. If you only want two documents then you should ask for them. Clearly, asking for all communication goes way beyond two letters. This is neither the Cabinet Office nor the Commissioner expanding the scope of your request, it is a reasonable view of the request that you chose to submit.

::::

I've clarified it and restricted it already.

So what exactly is it that the Cabinet Office doesn't understand at this point?

Remember, the Cabinet Office has already broken the law.

It timed out of the request.

And If it had any confusion about the request, then it should have applied Section16, R 9 at an early stage.

Something the recent Tribunal judge was most keen on at the recent tribunal.....As I don't think Tribunals like to see an obvious waste of public money. When PA's don't comply with the law.

The CO could apply these Sections as it has been nothing but obstructive.....stating that hadn't received the request, then going on to ignore the clarification... The December clarification that is.

So it had nine months to 'help and assist' and six months to think about the clarifications.

And since the PHSO says it doesn't need any letters of appointment, ....despite the ICO guidance, it considerably narrows the scope already.

::

A: You have restricted it on time span alone. Nothing you have provided shows that you have informed the Cabinet Office that you do not wish your request to encompass all communications. Until it receives such notice it would be completely unreasonable for it to assume that otherwise.

The fact the Cabinet Office breached section 10 is completely immaterial to what the scope of your request is.

If you wish to reduce the scope then please do so in writing. If you maintain that you have already done so and do not wish to do so again, then the Commissioner will continue his investigation with the scope of the request being “all communications from the cabinet office to the PHSO and vice versa on Qualified Persons”, which means exactly that you are requesting all communications on the subject of QPs sent between the PHSO and the Cabinet Office.

Regards, Case Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office,

:::

Jto response;

Dear caseworker,

But there cannot be many 'communications' - as apparently the Cabinet Office deletes all its emails after three months.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics...

And the opinion that Downing Stret has been silently deleting emails to get round Foi requests......

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news...

I'm sure the ICO would not support law avoidance.

And it shouldn't take three and a half days to investigate three months' worth of emails for the word 'Ombudsman appointment' .

I can do it in seconds - and I'm not technically savvy,

::::

So is the Cabinet Office now saying that it doesn't have the files,which it has stated that it would take take three and a half days to go through?

The alternative is that it has deleted it's emails, so doesn't have a clue who it has appointed Qualified People ...and therefore can't respond to the request.

If that's the case, perhaps it ought to say so.

Jto

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Dear JTo

To address your question:

So is the Cabinet Office now saying that it doesn't have the files,which it has stated that it would take take three and a half days to go through?

The Cabinet Office’s argument throughout has been that it would exceed the appropriate cost limit to comply with your request. At no point has the Commissioner or the Cabinet Office stated otherwise.

In my previous email I stated:

"If you wish to reduce the scope then please do so in writing. If you maintain that you have already done so and do not wish to do so again, then the Commissioner will continue his investigation with the scope of the request being ?all communications from the cabinet office to the PHSO and vice versa on Qualified Persons?, which means exactly that you are requesting all communications on the subject of QPs sent between the PHSO and the Cabinet Office."

I am taking your decision to ignore this as confirmation that you do not wish to take this opportunity to amend the scope of your request.

Regards,

Case Officer

:::

Dear Case Officer

Thank you but I'll take a two request option.

1. The original request-

Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Although I would like to know which presented option to refund the scope if the request that the CO has chosen,

The response may contain some some interesting information.

But if that's too much for the CO to undertake, as I don't want to waste public money :

2. PLUS - A second two- letter option....

The dated PHSO QP appointment letters sent to ombudsmen- Ann Abraham and Julie Mellor - (as already stated in the request)

Do you wish me to put 2 on WDTK, or will you pass it to the Cabinet Office?

I hope that is satisfactory.

Best Wishes

Jto

CA Purkis left an annotation ()

The mind boggles.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

From the ICO

Dear Jto

Thank you for confirming the scope of this request.

Regarding your query:

Although I would like to know which presented option to refund the scope if the request that the co has chosen,

The response may contain some some interesting information.

Apologies, but I don’t understand what you’re asking me to do.

Regarding the second request, please put that on WDTK. It’s a new request and it is the Cabinet Office’s responsibility to handle it.

Regards,

ICO Case Officer

::::

Dear Caseworker,

The modified scope is already spelt out on the WDTK request.

I haven't altered the the original request, except for a clarification, which was ignored...as the Cabinet Office then continued to answer the request without considering it.

Which is something of a waste of public money, as presumably it will now have to backtrack and pay attention to the clarifications if it eventually decides to provide a clarified response.

But as I have sought advice and the ICO has determined that I should put in yet another request on WDTK - because the Cabinet Office will not apply itself to clarifications and gave no Section 16 or regulation 9 'help and assistance' in re-scoping the request ...I would clearly not be considered vexatious in doing so.

However, on a point of law, please would confirm that the the Cabinet Office has special privileges with regard to the FOIA in ignoring clarifications, and does not need to apply itself to S16 R9 'help and advice' with the aim of limiting the scope of requests, if the request is considered too wide ranging.

Personally, I am sad to see that public money on such an insignificant issue - The appointment letters of two Ombudsmen as Qualified Persons - to which the Cabinet Office should be able to respond quickly and efficiently, will be wasted on a second request.

But I will follow your considered instruction and put a second request to the Cabinet Office in WDTK.

Regards
Jto

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Dear ICO

Could you please update me on whether the Cabinet Office is ever going to be asked to asked to deal with request?

What is the current position?

Because it really has gone on long enough.

Thank you

Jto

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

It dies seem that the Cabinet Office Is in the habit of losing files.

It's possible that these PHSO qualified person letters may be in the same tranche of files that the Cabinet Office lost:

Either by an employee leaving them on a train:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7449255.stm

Or just 'withheld ' as the government paedophile list was:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-...

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

July 10 2015
Dear ICO

Could you please update me on whether the Cabinet Office is ever going to be asked to asked to deal with request?

What is the current position?

Because it really has gone on long enough.

Thank you

JTO

::..
July 10 2015
Dear Jto

As I stated in my email of 18 June 2015, as you wish to maintain your appeal the Commissioner has to continue his investigation. I have written to the Cabinet Office asking for further information on its use of section 12 and am currently awaiting a response. I do not expect to receive a response till towards the end of the month.

Regards,

Case Officer

::::

Nb. If the Cabinet Office cannot get round to answering the request by September, I'm buying the request birthday cake and sending a slice of two - to the ICO.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Juiy11 2015

Dear ICO

Perhaps you might enquire if the PHSO QP appointments were made by telephone - and that is why there seems to be no trace of them.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33...

JTO

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Thank you for your tenacity Jt......I would say "UNBELIEVABLE" but sadly it happens all the time!

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

This is possibly our top civil service office .... and responses to requests should be a public demonstration of how competent it is.

Yet it can't find two/three letters?

I'm almost in the brink of saying : This country has gone to the dogs' - in Daily Mail style.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Well...still waiting for a Cabinet Office response to my request.

Perhaps I'd better write to Father Christmas for one?

Seems I'd be more likely to get one

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Decision by the ICO.

Note that the ICO states that the title of the request is not part of the request..so presumably WDTK does not include the title as part of the request when it sends requests to public authorities.

::::

My only comment on the review is that, logically ,the Cabinet Offce states that it has provided the 're-appointment' letter, so it must have already checked that there was an appointment letter.

Therefore either

1. There wasn't an appointment letter ( which in my opinion is likely ) and the Cabinet Office can't admit it as Dame Julie Mellor has signed off requests as the Qualified Person.

... or that the Cabinet Office found the appointment letter

2 .....and then witheld it in order to state that the 're-appointment letter' that it had provided was the only one on file.

Reference: FS50559082

Freedom of Information Act 2000 Decision notice Date: Public Authority: Address: Complainant: Address: 24 November 2015 Cabinet Office 70 Whitehall London SW1A 2AS

JT Oakley

1. The complainant requested information from the Cabinet Office relating to the appointment of qualified persons within the Public and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). The Cabinet Office refused this request under section 12(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) because it considered complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit.

2. The Commissioner’s decision is that the Cabinet Office correctly refused the request under section 12(1) of the Act. However, the Cabinet Office breached section 16 of the Act as it failed to give adequate advice and assistance to the complainant when handling her request. The Cabinet Office has also breached section 17(5) of the Act as it did not provide its refusal notice within 20 working days. The Commissioner does not require the Cabinet Office to issue a new response as a separate request with a reduced scope has already been submitted by the complainant. Request and response

3. On 19 September 2014, the complainant wrote to the Cabinet Office and requested information in the following terms: “Please could you provide all communications from the cabinet office to the PHSO and vice versa on Qualified Persons (designation with regard to the FoIA), post 1997.
This would include the names of Qualified persons, the date of their appointment and any communication between the two offices on the subject.”

4. The Cabinet Office responded on 4 December 2014. It refused the request under section 12(1) of the Act as compliance with the request would exceed the appropriate limit, but did not provide any indication why this was the case other than stating the fact. The estimate did not include any detailed estimate or evidence about the work involved in complying with the request. The Cabinet Office did state that the complainant could reduce the cost of compliance with the request by limiting the number of years within the scope of the request.

5. The complainant requested an internal review of the response to her request. In making this request for an internal review, the complainant provided the following options for reducing the scope of her request: “A) January 1, 1993 to the date of request. B) January1, 2002 until the date of request. If it is necessary to narrow the time period further, since a period of years does not seem unduly excessive to locate what can only be a handful of legally required letters, then I will narrow it further to: C) January 1, 2011 - to the date of request.” The complainant also stated that if the Cabinet Office were to provide cogent evidence about why compliance with the request would exceed the appropriate limit then she might be able to be more exact about the information she was particularly interested in.

6. Following an internal review the Cabinet Office wrote to the complainant on 24 February 2015. It upheld the decision to refuse the request under section 12(1) of the Act and similarly did not provide a thorough estimate about why compliance would exceed the appropriate limit. The review noted the complainant’s suggestions for reducing the scope of the request but did not confirm whether any of them would bring the request within the appropriate limit. The review stated that the complainant may wish to be more specific about what information she was interested in, but did not go into detail about how this applied to the requested information. Scope of the case

7. The complainant contacted the Commissioner on 22 October 2014 to complain that her request had not been responded to within the time limit set out in the Act. Following the Cabinet Office’s internal review response the complainant appealed about the section 12(1) refusal of her request.

8. The Commissioner considers the scope of the request to be whether the Cabinet Office is entitled to refuse the request under section 12(1) of the Act. The Commissioner will also consider whether the Cabinet Office complied with its obligation under section 16 to provide advice and assistance to the complainant where reasonable, and also whether the Cabinet Office issued a valid response to the complainant within the time limit established the Act. Reasons for decision Section 17(5) – timescale for response where section 12 is applied

9. The complainant submitted her requested to the Cabinet Office via the Whatdotheyknow website on 19 September 2014. The Cabinet Office stated that it did not receive the request until 18 November 2014, after it had received contact from the Commissioner and the request was resent by the complainant.

10. The Act provides a time limit of 20 working days from the date of receipt of the request. The Cabinet Office issued its initial refusal to the complainant on 4 December 2014, which is within 20 working days of when it stated it received the request, but not within 20 working days of when the complainant sent the request.

11. The issue here is whether the Commissioner can say with reasonable certainty that the Cabinet Office received the request when the complainant first sent it. The Commissioner’s guidance on the subject states the receipt means “the day on which the request is physically or electronically delivered to the authority” 1 .

12. The Commissioner notes that there is evidence to show that around the period the request was made the Cabinet Office was having difficulty receiving emails from the Whatdotheyknow site.

However, the Commissioner was given confirmation from the Whatdotheyknow 1https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio... see section 27, page 8

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e... 3

website that the request in this instance was received by the Cabinet Office’s email servers.

13. The Commissioner considers that there is sufficient evidence to show that the Cabinet Office had received the request on the date it was sent by the complainant. As it did not issue its refusal notice within 20 working days, it breached section 17(5) of the Act. Section 12(1) – where cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit

14. Section 12(1) states that a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate cost limit.

15. The appropriate cost limit is defined in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. Under regulation 3 the appropriate cost limit is set at £600 for a public authority such as the Cabinet Office. Under regulation 4 the Cabinet Office may charge up to £25 per hour to determine whether information is held, and then locate, retrieve and extract the information. At this rate, the appropriate cost limit equates to 24 hours – or 1440 minutes – of work.

16. The Commissioner considers it pertinent for his decision on whether section 12(1) has been applied correctly that the request asks for “all” communications between the Cabinet Office and the PHSO on the subject of Qualified Persons (QP) in relation to section 36 of the Act. The complainant is of the view that her request is only asking for two documents, as evidenced from her correspondence with the Commissioner and the comments she has made available on the Whatdotheyknow site: 3 “Taking the clarification into account, surely two appointment letters to Ann Abrahams and Dame Julie Mellor cannot involve that amount of work?” “Apparently the Cabinet Office is incapable of finding two letters ... written to Ann Abrahams and Dame Julie Mellor , on their appointments as qualified persons - as its filing system is far too complex.” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Could you please tell me why it is impossible for the Cabinet Office not to search it's electronic files for two names in recent Cabinet Office appointments. I would like to know how the vast amount of time you state is necessary to find two simple documents has been worked out.”

17. The Commissioner disagrees with the complainant’s view. Requesting “all” communications is far removed from asking for two documents. The complainant has argued that the title she gave to the request on the Whatdotheyknow site, as well as the second sentence of her request, shows the specific information she wanted.

18. However, the Commissioner’s view is that the title is immaterial, as this is not part of the request. The second sentence merely states the information that the complainant would like to see included, it does not specifically state that it is the entirety of the relevant information that she wishes to obtain. Section 8(1)(c) of the Act states a request must “describe the information requested”. In this instance, the complainant asked for all communications, so the Commissioner’s decision must reflect that.

19. The Commissioner has explained this to the complainant, who maintains her view. However, during the course of the Commissioner’s investigation the complainant also submitted a separate request for the two documents she referred to and the Cabinet Office was able to provide some information of relevance within the appropriate limit. The Commissioner wishes to stress that he does not consider that continuing with this appeal is entirely necessary given another request has been made which specifies the particular documents referred to in paragraph 16. Furthermore, the complainant is far more likely to obtain the information in a direct request for the specific documents rather than a catch-all request for all communications on the subject.

20. In its submissions to the Commissioner, the Cabinet Office also focussed on the complainant’s use of “all” and how this made the scope of the request beyond the appropriate limit. The Commissioner checked with the Cabinet Office and it confirmed that for its submissions it was working with the timescale January 1, 2011 - to the date of request as specified by the complainant (see paragraph 5 of this decision).

21. The Cabinet Office stated that this subject matter was not something that had been handled as a single issue, and so could be potentially captured within sets of information relating to freedom of information policy in general, or other issues relating to the Ombudsman. The Cabinet Office argued that this meant the information would likely be contained across a number of different teams which interact with the PHSO, such as its Knowledge and Information Team, Legal Department, and the Propriety & Ethics Team.

22. The Commissioner has considered this argument and accepts this as reasonable. The complainant did not specifically ask for information on the appointment of individuals to be QPs, but instead all information relating to the subject. This could be the PHSO asking for advice on the application of section 36 of the Act, Ombudsmen issues in general, as well as communications relating to the appointment of QPs.

23. The Cabinet Office’s position is that the wide scope of the request brings into contention a large number of individuals within at least four business units, as well as three individuals from private offices. As stated above the information could potentially encompass a range of subjects relating to QPs so the information would not just require a search of the information but also additional time to extract the relevant information from what could be identified. Even with the complainant’s reduced scope of 43 months the Cabinet Office argued that it would require more than 24 hours of work to obtain the requested information.

24. The Cabinet Office’s estimate showed that it would need “at least” three individuals for each of the different business areas – plus an additional three from the concerned private offices – to help identify the relevant information. The Cabinet Office stated that the wide scope of the request meant that it estimated it would take each member of staff approximately five hours to locate all of the relevant information, which comes to a minimum of 75 hours. It also provided an estimate on how long it would take to extract the information, which was given despite not knowing how much information would be located. The Cabinet Office stated it considered it reasonable to assign an additional 28 hours to this activity, allowing for two people to spend two days doing the necessary work.

25. The Commissioner agrees with the Cabinet Office’s position that the scope of the request is likely to require more than 24 hours’ worth of work and so exceed the appropriate cost limit. Given the number of teams and private offices involved, and the staff levels that would be involved as a result, the Commissioner sees it as reasonable that the scope of the request would exceed the appropriate limit. Whilst the Commissioner has borne in mind that the Cabinet Office’s estimate for extracting any relevant information is at best an educated guess, he acknowledges that some time would need to be afforded for this activity, and given the wide scope of the request it would be unreasonable to assume that this activity could be completed in a short space of time.

26. The Commissioner also notes that the Cabinet Office has provided information of relevance to the complainant’s request once the scope was reduced to more specific areas.

27. The Commissioner’s decision is that section 12(1) of the Act applies and the request can be refused. He does not require any further steps from the Cabinet Office. Section 16 – duty to provide advice and assistance

28. Section 16 of the Act places an obligation to offer advice and assistance to requesters where it is reasonable to do so. When a request is refused under section 12(1) of the Act, the Commissioner’s view is that section 16 obliges public authorities to provide practical suggestions on how the scope of the request could be reduced so that information of interest to requester might be provided.

29. The Commissioner notes that the Cabinet Office suggested the complainant should reduce the period covered by the request in order to limit the scope. However, the Commissioner also notes that the complainant followed these instructions when asking for an internal review and it made no discernible difference to the Cabinet Office’s response.

30. The Commissioner’s view is that the Cabinet Office has breached section 16 of the Act. The complainant followed the Cabinet Office’s instructions for limiting the scope of the request, yet was refused again once she followed them. The Commissioner also considers that had the Cabinet Office also provided a reasonable estimate to support its section 12(1) refusal, the complainant would have had more information to work from and could have made suggestions that limited the scope of the request to the point where it came within the appropriate limit.

31. As the complainant has submitted a new request with a much reduced scope the Commissioner does not consider it reasonable to have the Cabinet Office respond on this matter with further suggestions, as the matter is already at hand. However, the Commissioner asks that the Cabinet Office makes greater efforts to provide useful and meaningful advice to requesters who require assistance on reducing the scope of their requests.

32. Either party has the right to appeal against this decision notice to the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights). Information about the appeals process may be obtained from: First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) GRC & GRP Tribunals, PO Box 9300, LEICESTER, LE1 8DJ Tel: 0300 123 4504 Fax: 0870 739 5836 Email: GRC@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk Website: http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/gene... 33. If you wish to appeal against a decision notice, you can obtain information on how to appeal along with the relevant forms from the Information Tribunal website. 34. Any Notice of Appeal should be served on the Tribunal within 28 (calendar) days of the date on which this decision notice is sent.

Group Manager Information Commissioner’s Office Wycliffe House Water Lane Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF

Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

The "titles" of requests are sent to public bodies in the subject lines of the request emails.

--

Richard - WhatDoTheyKnow.com volunteer

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Then it can be presumed that every WDTK title has been ignored as not being part of every request, even though it's part of the text received.

I will ask the ICO when the decision that respondees can ignore parts of the received requests was made.

And what was the logic in allowing PA's to edit parts of the requests as the ICO's 'Guide to Making Requests' does not stipulate that any specific part of a request can be ignored and dismissed.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Never got an answer to this:

Please also state which system/s that you are using which precludes
a computer search of the terms.

And which terms you have already used to enable you to answer my
request (as above) in terms of staff and associated costs on the
estimate of time taken, which you have provided,in order to answer
the request,

::::

It seems that neither the Cabinet Office or the ICO considered my request for clarification of the computer system used and why the Cabinet Office couldn't do a simple word search on it wasn't worth answering.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

[Appointment of Qualified Persons at the PHSO]

https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

According to the ICO, this title of does not scope or define this request... and so can be ignored.

Where I had assumed that the my summary /title defined the terms of the request in that it was ALL the PHSO appointment letter files I wanted to read, ( carried out by one section of the CO) the ICO has presumably decided that what I really meant was that my request encompassed EVERY mention of qualified persons within the Cabinet Office, even though there were only two PHSO appointments in the entire time period ...and the files must therefore, of necessity, be rather slim.

I also thought that the second paragraph had refined the first paragraph by explaining the first paragraph.

But according to the Decision, the title does not count ....and seemingly neither does the second paragraph.

The entire request is centred on the word 'all' in the first paragraph - Even though the context of the word 'all' was modified, as to what I wanted to read the 'all of..' Ie the appointment in the title and in the second paragraph.

However the decision both takes out the title - and seemingly the context of the first two paragraphs.

Thus the first paragraph was seemingly considered in isolation -and therefore I have learnt that the ICO can pick and chose which paragraphs to select in ISOLATION ....which will certainly make me write longer and more intricate paragraphs in future.

I had already tried to limit the dates of request - no CO response- and limit it to the two letters of appointment, as a clarification ....but this immensely fined down limitation was also ignored. And seems to play no part in the decision.
So I am left wondering if anyone bothered to read the clarifications at all.

::::

The background of this request is that the Cabinet Office could not supply the appointment letter of PHSO's Dame Julie Mellor, which rather points to there never being one. In all probability, someone just forgot to apply for one.

The CO decided that a 're-appointment' letter, written after the date that Dame Julie Mellor made QP decisions, was the only only it could provide.

Which is quite an amusing response. As logically one cannot state that there is a 're-appointment letter' if there is no evidence of an appointment letter.

The QP decision that I was interested in isn't worth pursuing, due to the amount of time that has passed.

But anyone following this request could regard it as an object lesson as to how the Cabinet Office operates.

And how the ICO can chose to ignore the title/summary and logically connecting paragraphs, and the fined down two-letter clarification of what was requested.

D. Speers left an annotation ()

Very interesting Jt Oakley and thank you for your expertise!

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Here's the ICO's view...that neither the title - specifying the appointments (2) the qualifying paragraph, or the clarification about two letters needs be taken into account:

17. The Commissioner disagrees with the complainant’s view. Requesting “all” communications is far removed from asking for two documents. The complainant has argued that the title she gave to the request on the Whatdotheyknow site, as well as the second sentence of her request, shows the specific information she wanted.

18. However, the Commissioner’s view is that the title is immaterial, as this is not part of the request.

The second sentence merely states the information that the complainant would like to see included, it does not specifically state that it is the entirety of the relevant information that she wishes to obtain. Section 8(1)(c) of the Act states a request must “describe the information requested”. In this instance, the complainant asked for all communications, so the Commissioner’s decision must reflect that.

::::

Logically, just how much correspondence does it take to qualify two PHSO ombudsmen?

And, according to the Cabinet Office, it cannot find the letter qualifying Dame Julie Mellor.

Would the problem be that the CO can't disclose the recent material ..... because the correspondence between the PHSO and the CO might show that somebody slipped up on not appointing a PHSO QP ....before Dame Julie Mellor was merrily signing QP letters - and it had to be covered up?

That would be an obvious conclusion.

As for me, I couldn't possibly comment.

[Name Removed] (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Here's the response to the later request :

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

The Cabinet Office never did find Dame Julie's appointment letter....even with the narrowed request.....suggested by the ICO.

It could only find the 're-appointment' letter - which I had already read and found highly suspicious ...because she was already signing off requests as a QP-

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

..... before I made the request for the appointment letter itself.)

The ICO still maintained its stance of REFUSiNG to consider that the title of the request limited the content of the rest of the request.

One might think that the ICO was certainly compliant in helping the CO to delay its response to the request above ( even with its title totally ignored - and request already narrowed - in a contraction to the 'ALL' on which the ICO placed absolute importance ).

Q To the ICO.. In comparison to other public bodies, why is the Cabinet Office seemingly let off the hook so often?

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Cabinet Office Compliance with FoIA / Request P John