FoI Act 20 day limit

J Newman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

You state in IR 779 883, “The DWP calculates the first WORKING on which a Freedom of Information is received is ‘day zero’....”

1) Can you point me to the precise piece of legislation that uses this exact definition? None of the wording I have seen includes the word “working” where you have here, so day zero can be any day, working day or not. Days 1 – 20 I accept DO have to be working days.

2) Elsewhere you have suggested that the wording of the legislation is open to interpretation and therefore yours is one of perhaps several possibilities. This being the case, someone in DWP must have chosen to apply the interpretation above and cascaded the decision throughout the department. Who is this individual? I would at least like the job title and confirmation that this person does have the Secretary of State’s authority to make such a decision.

3) If the decision was made following legal advice, I would also like to see said advice.

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
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If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
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For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

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DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards,

DWP Central FoI Team

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John Slater left an annotation ()

Congratulations John, you finally got them!

It is interesting to note that suddenly everyone is the Minister when you asked about the decision being taken. I can't remember the particular request but the DWP opted to make a distinction between operational decision making and Ministerial decision making. As usual it simply makes it up as it goes along to suit its own needs!

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'FoI Act 20 day limit'.

You have not directly answered Q2 - are you saying that the decision to apply this erroneous interpretation of the law was made at team leader level suggesting that more senior management were not involved & unaware?

I would like to understand the decision making process that has not only allowed an edict to be made that infriges the law, but has then vigorously defended it in the face of a number of perfectly rational well-reasoned challenges.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

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1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

J Newman left an annotation ()

At risk of sounding sanctimonious, the ONLY issue here is DWP’s attitude to the law – not perhaps in this case complete contempt, but definitely reflecting a belief that

a) it can interpret the law to suit its own ends – a view which pervades the entire organisation.

b) It can face down any challenges and carry on regardless. There is NOTHING in the ICO decision notice that hasn’t been said to DWP repeatedly over the past year, so it is not a matter of right or wrong – just bluff for as long as you can get away with it. The ICO has not even accepted there was room for a misunderstanding because of course there is not.

It is quite absurd (not to mention the cost) that it has taken all this palaver and the involvement of the ICO to point out to DWP something that to everyone else (including other public bodies) has been blindingly obvious.

Properly organised, 20 days is no more difficult to achieve than 21, but why offer a better service when you can get away with providing a worse one? DWP regularly sets its standards from the bottom up not the top down and has no perception of excellence, let alone an ambition to achieve it.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

Indeed, JS. An excellent result from admirable persistence.

It may not be immediately obvious to any passers by that the ruling from the ICO referred to was actually obtained by JN himself, when the DWP failed to comply with the statutory time period inresponding to an ealier query

And note here, the failure of the DWP to acknwoledge this, or to offer any form of public apology for what can only be either incompetemce or dishonesty.

It was never a difficult or abstruse point of law that was in issue. Just for once, the statutory provsions involved were quite clear.

Here's John's original query:

http://www.ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/...

It is a victory in the teeth of the DWP's contemptuous attitude to FoI legalities in general, as much as the important precise point itself, which is well worth celebrating in my view - and it has distinctly cheered my day.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

Many congratulations, JN. Looks like you and I were compiling annotations at the same time. In much the same direction, I am glad to note!

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

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John Slater left an annotation ()

It might be nice to work for an organisation that is happy to 'hang you out to dry' when I'm sure far more senior people were happy to go along with the wrong answer!