Secondment offer from PHSO - accepted or rejected?

J Roberts made this Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner's Office

Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Information Commissioner's Office,

In response to an information request (IC-96007-D5D1) you disclosed:

'I will refer your offer of a secondment to our HR Dept who may be in contact with you to obtain further details.'

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

The organisation in question was the PHSO, which handles complaints against yourselves:

'We received 242 complaints regarding ICO in 2019/20'

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

1. Please confirm whether the secondment offer was accepted. If it was, please provide full details of the role of the secondee, including their location, job title and start date. If the secondee was a senior member of staff, please also provide their name.

2. Please provide all information held on the decision to either accept or reject the secondment offer.

3. If you have other staff currently seconded please provide the names of the organisations or bodies they are with. If any of them are with the PHSO, please provide full details.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

icoaccessinformation, Information Commissioner's Office

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J Roberts left an annotation ()

Some requests related to the relationship between the PHSO and the ICO:

'Complaints about ICO handled by PHSO in 2018/19'

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

'Complaints to ICO about the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman'

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

'1. I would like to know how many times a request for information has been referred to the Information Commissioners Office following a complainant being unhappy with your response?'

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

ICO Casework, Information Commissioner's Office

14 June 2021

Our reference: IC-112010-N1W5 

Dear J Roberts,

Thank you for your recent request for information. We received your
request on 13 June 2021. Your request will be allocated to an Information
Access Officer who will contact you under the reference number above in
due course.
Under statutory timeframes our response to your request is due by 9 July
2021. However, due to the pandemic it may not be possible to respond to
your request by this date. The ICO has arrangements in place in accordance
with UK Government guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19, and we
continue to experience high demand for our services despite our reduced
capacity. 
If you have any queries about this information request you may email us,
quoting our reference number in the subject line. Please note that
Information Access Officers are only able to address information requests
to ICO; they are unable to assist with complaints to ICO, or to provide
general advice about the legislation we oversee.  
Our privacy notice explains what we do with the personal data you provide
to us when you make an information request: 
https://ico.org.uk/global/privacy-notice...
Thank you for your interest in the work of the Information Commissioner's
Office.
Yours sincerely,
Eluned Cook  
Information Access Support Officer
Information Commissioner’s Office   
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
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J Roberts left an annotation ()

The prospect of an ICO staffer embedded with the PHSO raises a number of concerns beyond the fact that each body investigates complaints from members of the public about the other.

The ICO also investigates data breaches more generally, and in June 2020 it disclosed the following in relation to a PHSO data breach involving more than 5,000 individuals:

'(ii) As this breach has only recently been reported to us, and we have only just begun our investigation into the issues raised.'

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

Details of the PHSO data breach are available here:

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

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The PHSO has also received an information request regarding the secondment offer:

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

D. Moore left an annotation ()

My view is that the relationship between the two organisations is already very close.

In an email sent by the ICO to the PHSO the caseworker said:

"I have drafted a decision notice and wonder if you could just consider the paragraph below and whether I am correct on this point.

The previous DN I am referring to is the one you referred me to in your earlier email. Mr Moore has raised the point that his request is not connected to any particular complaint. My proposed paragraph is trying to address this and say that in house clinical advisors names have been redacted and if they were disclosed, in some cases, it would be possible to link particular advisors to cases because of their speciality.

IS THERE ANYTHING FURTHER YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD TO THIS ARGUMENT BEFORE THE NOTICE IS ISSUED?" (emphasis added)

https://informationrights.home.blog/2019...

See also comment dated 19/1/21:

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

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Should read "comment of the 4/12/19"

ICO Casework, Information Commissioner's Office

5 July 2021 

Case Reference: IC-112010-N1W5 

Dear J Roberts

Further to our acknowledgement of 14 June we can now provide a response to
your information request of 13 June.

We have handled your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the FOIA).

Request

In your email you have asked the following questions regarding an ICO
secondment with the PHSO:

1.  Please confirm whether the secondment offer was accepted.  If it was,
please provide full details of the role of the secondee, including their
location, job title and start date.  If the secondee was a senior member
of staff, please also provide their name.

2.  Please provide all information held on the decision to either accept
or reject the secondment offer.

3.  If you have other staff currently seconded please provide the names of
the organisations or bodies they are with.  If any of them are with the
PHSO, please provide full details.

Response

I can confirm no secondment offer was accepted. I can also confirm we hold
no information relating to a decision, as the offer was not progressed or
considered further.

In response to your last question we currently have two members of staff
on secondment. One with the Competition and Markets Authority, the other
with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

Next steps 

If you are dissatisfied with our response under the FOIA or wish to
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A copy of our review procedure can be accessed from our website.
 
[2]https://ico.org.uk/media/1883/ico-review...
 
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Please note that our privacy notice explains what we do with the personal
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Yours sincerely

Adrian Hay

Lead Information Access Officer, Risk and Governance Department
Corporate Strategy and Planning Directorate

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
T. 03304146450  F. 01625 524510  ico.org.uk  twitter.com/iconews
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For information about what we do with personal data see our privacy notice
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References

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5. https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/d...
6. https://ico.org.uk/global/privacy-notice/

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Perhaps the offer was not accepted because the relationship between the two organisations is cosy enough already. D Moore's comment of 19 June 2021 certainly reveals a cosiness in the existing relationship guaranteed to raise some eyebrows:

'IS THERE ANYTHING FURTHER YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD TO THIS ARGUMENT BEFORE THE NOTICE IS ISSUED?" (emphasis added)'

https://informationrights.home.blog/2019...

It's a question that an ICO caseworker might legitimately ask of a colleague, but to ask it of the public authority the notice concerns seems odd.

There is also an interesting comment on David Hencke's 'Westminster Confidential' blog purportedly from someone who worked as a PHSO investigator for 6 years:

'...the relationship between senior management and government departments was in many cases far too cosy. Even where an investigator did find maladministration, a quiet word from the department with a senior manager could have the finding watered down or even reversed.' (8 June 2021)

https://davidhencke.com/2021/06/07/exclu...