Dear University of Sheffield,

I am writing under the FOI Act to request all communication and documents relating to negotiation of a contract with Cambridge Analytica/Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) in 2016-17, including proposals, agreements, budget, any communications with the executive board or Public Affairs, PR and marketing teams at UoS. And also the dates, attendees and minutes of any meetings with the above mentioned companies please. Thank you for your assistance with this.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Emma L Briant

Anne E Cutler, University of Sheffield

Dear Dr Briant
I write in response to your recent Freedom of Information request.  The
University has no record of any communications with Cambridge Analytica.

I am required under the Act to inform you that if you have cause for
genuine complaint regarding our reply to your request for information, you
should within 60 days of receiving this response, write to the University
FOI Unit, The University Secretary’s Office, Sheffield University, Western
Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN or email [University of Sheffield request email] explaining why you
are not satisfied with the result.

If you still remain unsatisfied with the University's decision, you will
be entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Anne Cutler

The University Secretary’s Office

University of Sheffield

Western Bank

Sheffield

S10 2TN

[]^

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Dear University of Sheffield,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of University of Sheffield's handling of my FOI request 'Marketing and Communications'.

I have asked this university for any communications and/or documents relating to negotiation of a possible contract with Cambridge Analytica/Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) in 2016-17 - including proposals, agreements, budget, any communications with the executive board or Public Affairs, PR and marketing teams at UoS. I am being informed that the university has no record of communications with Cambridge Analytica. I have very strong reason to believe the university was in communication with this company in early 2017 and I am asking you to conduct an internal review with the highest priority please.

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

Yours faithfully,

Dr Emma L Briant

Dear Anne E Cutler,

I have received no reply following my earlier request several weeks ago for an internal review of this FOI request. Please could you respond as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Emma L Briant

Anne E Cutler, University of Sheffield

Apologies, I did pass it to my colleague who undertakes reviews.  I will
chase.
best wishes
Anne Cutler

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Matthew B Zawadzki, University of Sheffield

Dear Dr. Briant,
I have been asked to conduct a review of your request for information,
sent to the University on Wednesday 26th September 2019. An internal
review provides an opportunity to examine all aspects of the request, and,
if appropriate, to provide an alternative response to the one originally
supplied. In your request you asked for:-
"all communication and documents relating to negotiation of a contract
with Cambridge Analytica/Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) in
2016-17, including proposals, agreements, budget, any communications with
the executive board or Public Affairs, PR and marketing teams at UoS. And
also the dates, attendees and minutes of any meetings  with the above
mentioned companies please."   
A response was sent to you on Tuesday 22 October 2019 stating that:-
"The University has no record of any communications with Cambridge
Analytica."
I have sought to establish who was contacted within the University and
what searches were carried out. These are set out below.
When your request was received, it was sent, in the first instance, to the
Marketing and Communications department, in particular to the Head of
Media and External Communications and the Media Relations Manager. They
provided a nil response to the request relating to any information held by
themselves. The request was then sent to the Head of Governance, who also
confirmed a nil response relating to University Executive Board records
for 2016-2017. The request was then sent to the Director of HR and
Communications who suggested that the request also be forwarded to the
Director of Planning and Insight and all of the Heads of Corporate
Communications. One colleague within Corporate Communications then
highlighted that a proposal document was sent by Cambridge Analytica to
himself relating to their services and the potential to run a digital
advertising campaign following a telephone discussion. However at that
time the discussions or proposal was not taken any further and the
information was not retained. The colleague in Corporate Communications
searched their emails and records but found nothing relating to either of
the companies.
The request was then sent to the Director of Research Services who
confirmed that they also had no record of either company in either the
contracts database, CRM system or costing records. The final person to be
contacted was the Assistant Director of Finance (Financial Services). His
response was that he had searched both the Customers/Debtors and
Suppliers/Vendors accounts database and that there were no records of
either Cambridge Analytica or Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL)
being set up, and therefore no financial transactions were ever recorded.
It is my view that the request was sent to the appropriate Professional
Services Heads of Department and relevant members of staff. They would
have had the necessary knowledge and understanding of their departmental
information systems to be in a position to determine whether any relevant
information may have been held. In addition they searched relevant
information systems to establish whether any information was held and
communicated the results of those searches back to the person
co-ordinating the request. The one reference to contact with Cambridge
Analytica / SCL highlighted that no communication or documents were held
at the time of your request relating to your request.
I can only conclude therefore that the response sent to you on the 22
October 2019 was the correct one.
If you are not happy with this response you are entitled to contact the
Information Commissioner for a review of whether the University has met
the requirements of the Act.
Their address is:-   
The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
Yours sincerely,
Matthew Zawadzki
-- 
Matthew Zawadzki
University Records Manager and Archivist
University Secretary's Office.
[1]https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/uso
The University of Sheffield,
Arts Tower,
12 Bolsover Street,
Sheffield,
S3 7NA

References

Visible links
1. https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/uso

Dear Matthew B Zawadzki,

Thank you for your reply. It is very concerning to me indeed to hear that the proposal and related communications were apparently deleted, or as you put it 'not retained'. Please can you confirm when this information was deleted and why.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Emma L Briant

Matthew B Zawadzki, University of Sheffield

Dear Dr. Briant,
This information isn't held. There was no procurement process and
therefore there was no need to retain such documentation.
Yours sincerely.

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Dear Matthew B Zawadzki,

Is it normal for all communication and proposals to be deleted so soon after their consideration? Please may I ask the purpose of the proposed work? Was it for creating ‘lookalike’ audiences for student recruitment purposes?

Yours sincerely,

Dr Emma L Briant

Dear Matthew B Zawadzki,

Please could you tell me whether it is normal policy for such communications and proposals to be deleted so soon after they were sent to the university? Please could you also tell me the purpose of the proposed work. Did it involve the creation of ‘lookalike audiences’ for student recruitment purposes?
Many thanks for your continued help.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Emma L Briant

Dear Matthew B Zawadzki,

I also would appreciate you letting me know when the information was deleted and why please. That there ‘no need to retain’ it is not a good enough reason to delete information that would show what services you were considering from this unethical company and why/when the contract was not signed, information that is strongly in the public interest and would illuminate the university’s decision making.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Emma L Briant

Matthew B Zawadzki, University of Sheffield

Dear Dr. Briant,
The University responded to your request under Section 1(1) a of the
Freedom of Information Act, and has carried out the internal review you
requested and informed you of the outcome. As I stated in the internal
review if you are not happy with the response provided, you are entitled
to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office.
Yours sincerely,
Matthew Zawadzki

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