Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to request information about the process of building and delivering the new website www.birmingham.gov.uk. Specifically I would like to know:
1. The date on which this work began.
2. The initial delivery date and the new estimated date the work will be completed.
3. The initial cost estimate of the work and the current cost.
4. Who is doing this work? (e.g. which unit, division, section, agency, company,etc.)?
5. If any contracts are related to this job, copies of these (including all indexes, appendices and supplements) and the bids to tender.
6. All progress/status reports on this work.
My preferred format to receive this information is by electronic means. If one part of this request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need any clarification of this request please feel free to email me. If FOI requests of a similar nature have already been asked could you please include your responses to those requests.
Many public authorities release their contracts with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public’s interest. The public have an interest in knowing the terms of contracts awarded by public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.
If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:
• When these confidentiality agreements were agreed
• All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed.
• The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements
I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. I would also point to the Information Commissioner’s guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: ‘Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.’
Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the contracts should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.
I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request, and I look forward to hearing from you within the 20-working day statutory time period.
Dear Heather Brooke
Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Request for
Thank you for your recent enquiry for information held by the Council
under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We
acknowledge receipt of your request dated 3 July 2009, which was received
in our office and we will be touch with you again in due course.
In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we
will let you know. A fees notice will be issued to you and you will be
required to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.
If you require any further information or are not happy with our response
please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0121 303 4876.
Corporate Information Governance Team
Data Protection Act 1998
The information you have provided within your Freedom of Information
request will be held on our database and may also be held within manual
records for a period of 2 years from the date Birmingham City Council
received your request. Any personal data that you provide to Birmingham
City Council will be held in line with the requirements set out within the
Data Protection Act 1998.
Re Use of Public Sector Information
Where Birmingham City Council is the copyright holder of any information
that may be released, re-use for personal, educational or non-commercial
purposes is permitted without further reference to the City Council. Where
the re-use is for other purposes, such as commercial re-use, the applicant
should notify the City Council in writing to seek approval or agree terms
Dear Ms Heather Brooke
Further to your recent request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act, please see attached our response.
With kind regards
Corporate Information Governance Team
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