Income and Expenditure for PAF and PostZon datasets

Robert Whittaker made this Freedom of Information request to Royal Mail Group Limited
This authority is not subject to FOI law, so is not legally obliged to respond (details).


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.

Robert Whittaker

Dear Sir or Madam,

Under the Freedom of Information Act, I would like to obtain
information about the costs to the Royal Mail of maintaining the Postcode Address File (PAF) and the geographic coordinates of each code as contained in the PostZon product.

I would like a detailed breakdown of the annual costs to maintain both sets of data (ideally separated between the two) for a suitable recent period. Where staffing costs are included, I would like descriptions of the activities/roles involved and the numbers of staff assigned to each. Where computing/IT costs are included I would like a breakdown in terms of capital expenditure, software licenses, consultancy fees, etc.

I would also like details of the income generated from these data sets over the same period, from selling licences and any other sources.

Additionally, I would like to know if the data in these two datasets is all generated by the work of Royal Mail employees, or if some of it is supplied by outside bodies. If the latter, then does Royal Mail have to pay for any of the provision, and under what licensing terms is the data supplied? Are either the costs or licensing terms here regulated by legislation?

Many thanks for your help,

Robert J Whittaker

Royal Mail Group Limited

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Dear Mr Whittaker

Thank you for your request for information received on 16/10/2009, which
we are considering under the Freedom of Information Act. Under the Act
you should expect a reply from us to be sent by 13/11/2009, which is
twenty working days from receipt of your request.

If for any reason we are unable to provide you with a full response within
that time, we will contact you explaining the reasons for this and giving
a revised date by which we will reply.

If in the mean time you have any questions or would like to contact us
about your request, please contact us by telephone 01252 806513 or
alternatively email or write to us at the address below. Please be
assured that we are giving this our attention and will get back to you
shortly.

Yours sincerely

John Cere
[1][Royal Mail Group request email]
Freedom of Information Unit
PO Box 341, ALDERSHOT, GU11 1WW

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in
England and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Royal Mail Group request email]

Shane McCracken left an annotation ()

I'm interested in this data too but from the point of view of how much it costs to supply the data. I can quite imagine the cost of maintaining the PAF is substantial. The RM would need to do this in order to gain efficiencies on delivery.

The specifics of what I want to know is how much it costs to *supply* the PAF data once they have maintained it for delivery purposes.

Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whittaker

Please find attached a letter in relation to your request for information
from Royal Mail Group.

Yours sincerely

John Cere
Freedom of Information Case Officer
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in
England and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing in relation to my request under the Freedom of Information Act of 15 October 2009, entitled 'Income and Expenditure for PAF and PostZon datasets'.

Please pass this message on to the person who answered my original request and also to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

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

The way I read the response I received today, it appears to be justifying with-holding the data contained in the PAF and PostZone products themselves. This was not what I was asking for -- as you would see by re-reading my request. I was instead asking for information about the costs and processes of maintaining these data-sets.

The Royal mail has to maintain these sets by law, and it would not be commercially viable for anyone else to attempt to maintain a competing dataset. There is therefore little (if any) commercial value in knowing the costs involved. Since the maintenance involves the expenditure of public money, it is very much in the public interest for this information to be released. It is also essential to know the costs involved in maintaining the datasets, in order to judge whether the license fees charged by Royal Mail are in fact 'reasonable' -- as required by legislation.

I understand that some outline costs from a previous year are already available, having been presented in a PostComm report. At the very least your reply should have included those.

I therefore do not regard your current reply as an adequate response under the Freedom of Information Act: it does not appear address the question I asked, and does not provide sufficient justification for not disclosing the information requested. Since this appears to have been caused by a failure on your part to read the original request properly, I do not expect to have to wait more than a couple of days for a proper response to my original request. (You have already used up all of the 20 days allowed under the Act.)

If you are able to provide a proper reply in this timespan, there will be no need for a formal internal review at this point. If you are unable to do so, then I must request a full internal review. Please re-consider your justification for withholding the information, and also why you failed to tell me about partial information that it already in the public domain. If a public interest test is to be applied, I believe it should be applied to each element of my request individually, and also to any redacted or summary data that it may be possible to compile.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Whittaker

Re: Internal Review under the Freedom of Information Act

Thank you for your email received 13/11/09 requesting an internal review of
Royal Mail Group’s reply to your request for information under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000. This is receiving our attention and I will write
to you again once the internal review has been concluded.

In accordance with guidelines from the Information Commissioner’s Office,
Royal Mail will answer all appeals and requests for internal review of FOI
requests as soon as it reasonably can. This will usually be within 20
working days and in any case no later than 40 days from receipt of the
appeal.

In the mean time if you have any questions or would like to add any further
information for consideration then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

MF Khushi
Company Secretary's Office

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Dear Royal Mail Group,

By my calculation, you have now taken more than twenty working days considering the "internal review" of your response to my original request. Perhaps you could let me know why things are taking so long, and when I might expect to receive a full reply.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

Robert Whittaker

Dear Royal Mail Group,

I believe that it has now been 40 working days since you acknowledged my request for an internal review. In that acknowledgement you stated that your reply would "usually be within 20 working days and in any case no later than 40 days from receipt of the appeal." I have heard nothing from you since then.

If I don't receive a response from you by the end of this week, I'm afraid I shall be forced to refer this matter to the Information Commissioner.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

Royal Mail Group Limited

2 Attachments

Please see the attached letter.

Robert Whittaker

Dear Royal Mail Group,

I am afraid I am still not satisfied with your reply. I am prepared to give you another week to reconsider your position. Unless further information (or a promise thereof) is forthcoming in that time, I shall be writing to the Information Commissioner.

The financial breakdown for the PAF product you have provided can hardly be called "detailed". The details of precisely what comes under each heading and how the amount breaks down between those items, have not been given. I'm afraid I don't see any justification in your reply for withholding further the detail here.

In the case of the IT costs, you say that further breakdown cannot be provided as it is "an allocated figure from the Royal Mail IT Group programme". I find this a little odd, as the PAF activities are supposed to be ring-fenced. But that being the case, I would have thought it obvious that you should instead provide the basis/justification for this allocation, and details of the equipment / services actually used in PAF maintenance activities.

As regards data sources, I can understand (though don't agree with) your reluctance to go in the details of the contract terms. However, given my original request, I believe you should at least provide me with a list of suppliers for the PAF data, and the nature of the data that each one supplies. You have also failed to answer my question as to whether any of this supply is regulated by legislation.

Finally, when considering the public interest test, your reply fails to make any mention of the public interest in favour of disclosure, including transparency and accountability. I accept that there is some interest in withholding some of the information, but by not considering the case in favour of disclosure at all, I believe you have failed to properly apply the public interest test.

While the AMU may be self-funding, any profit or loss will be transferred to Royal Mail Group, making it very much public money that is being spent / received. I would guess that a significant amount of PAF income comes from other public bodies, and that which doesn't will still come from the public in the end, who pay for services from PAF-using businesses. There is therefore a strong public interest in the transparency and accountability of the Royal Mail's PAF maintenance activities.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Whittaker,

Thank you for your email dated 19th January 2009 concerning the internal
review of your request for information. Please be assured that we are
giving this our attention and should be in a position to provide you with a
further response by the end of next week. In the mean time if you have any
questions or concerns then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
Company Secretary's Office

2nd Floor, Royal Mail Sheffield, Pond Street, Sheffield, S98 6HR
[email address]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Whittaker

Further to your email dated 19th January 2010 concerning your request for
information from Royal Mail Group. We are working to provide a full
response to the points raised in your email but unfortunately, we do not
now think it will be possible to respond in full before next week. Please
be assured that we are giving this our full attention and will write to you
again shortly.

If you have any queries or concerns in the meantime then please do contact
me.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

---------------------- Forwarded by Colin Young/e/POSTOFFICE on 28/01/2010
16:16:52

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Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whittaker

Please find attached a letter in response to the points raised in your
email of the 19th January 2010.
(See attached file: Whittaker IR.doc)
Yours sincerely,

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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| | foi |
| | Sent by: Colin |
| | Young |
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| | |
| | 28/01/2010 16:24|
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| To: [FOI #21238 email] |
| cc: |
| Subject: Re: Freedom of Information request - Income and Expenditure for PAF and PostZon datasets |
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Dear Mr Whittaker

Further to your email dated 19th January 2010 concerning your request for
information from Royal Mail Group. We are working to provide a full
response to the points raised in your email but unfortunately, we do not
now think it will be possible to respond in full before next week. Please
be assured that we are giving this our full attention and will write to you
again shortly.

If you have any queries or concerns in the meantime then please do contact
me.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

---------------------- Forwarded by Colin Young/e/POSTOFFICE on 28/01/2010
16:16:52

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Dear Royal Mail Group,

Thank you very much for the information you have now provided. However, I am still not completely happy with your response.

I do not agree with your assessment that "a breakdown of the AMU's revenue by customer, sector or product type" is "commercially sensitive" and the balance of public interest is against disclosure. However I accept this is your assessment, and so will be taking this point to the Information Commissioner.

On many of the other matters, I still don't believe you have gone far enough either in providing the requested information or providing a proper justification for with-holding it.

You claim that many of the AMU's costs are the result of outsourcing, and so refuse to disclose any further details. In this case, I would expect a detailed list of exactly what services are outsourced (and to whom) and also details of the costs of items that are not outsourced.

With respect to the IT costs, I'm afraid your most recent answer in no way addresses my question. It was already obvious from your previous answer that the IT cost would be somehow "based on the proportion of Royal Mail's total costs which the AMU's activity accounts for". What I am after is details of the basis on which this is worked out. So I presumably require the total IT costs to the whole Royal Mail Group, and the details and amounts in the calculation that determines the percentage allocation.

You have also not provided the information I was after concerning the "details of the equipment / services actually used in PAF maintenance activities" -- I was looking for a list of hardware, software licenses, and service provision that would justify the claimed expenditure. Apologies if I was unclear here. Given that the IT costs have apparently increased by 70% in the last three years, it is clearly in the public interest to ensure that the amount AMU is charged for these accurately reflects the actual costs, and this information is required in order to do so.

With respect to those supplying the data used in the PAF, you have provided a list of suppliers, but not described the precise nature of the data supplied by each, nor whether it is supplied under contract and/or in return for any payment. This could clearly be done without disclosing the details of the contract terms or payment amounts, which appears to be the only justification you have offered for not disclosing this information. For providers who are themselves public bodies and have a monopoly on the data supplied, I see no reason on commercial grounds for not disclosing further details of the contracts and payments.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whittaker

I write further to your email of the 17th February 2010. I would like to
give you an update of your Freedom of Information Request.

Please be assured that we are giving this our immediate attention and will
provide you with a full response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Daniel Tulp
[1][Royal Mail Group request email]
Freedom of Information Unit
PO Box 341, ALDERSHOT, GU11 1WW

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in
England and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Whittaker

I am writing further to your email dated 17th February 2010 regarding for
request for information relating to income and expenditure for the Postal
Address File. I must apologise for our failure to provide a response to
your email before now – we are finalising our response to all of the points
raised in your correspondence about this request and will provide a
further; complete response as soon as we can.

Yours sincerely

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whittaker

Please find attached a full response to the questions asked in your email
dated 17th February 2010 regarding income and expenditure for the Postal
Address File.
(See attached file: Whittaker June.pdf)
Yours sincerely

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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| | foi |
| | Sent by: Colin |
| | Young |
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| | 03/06/2010 12:00|
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| To: [FOI #21238 email] |
| cc: |
| Subject: Freedom of Information Act Request |
>------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Dear Mr Whittaker

I am writing further to your email dated 17th February 2010 regarding for
request for information relating to income and expenditure for the Postal
Address File. I must apologise for our failure to provide a response to
your email before now – we are finalising our response to all of the points
raised in your correspondence about this request and will provide a
further; complete response as soon as we can.

Yours sincerely

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whittaker

Please find attached a letter regarding your request for information from
Royal Mail Group.
(See attached file: Whittaker 24-11-2010.pdf)
Yours sincerely

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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