Dear Her Majesty's Treasury,

I would like to request a copy of the training materials that are given to new staff to the Treasury as they are familiarising themselves with the COINS accounting system.

Yours faithfully,

Lisa Evans

Enquiries, CEU, Her Majesty’s Treasury

Dear Ms Evans,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. I write to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do not hesitate to contact us.

Darren Creamer
Correspondence and Enquiry Unit

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Morran, Paul, Her Majesty’s Treasury

1 Attachment

Please find attached our interim response to your recent enquiry.

Paul Morran | Information Rights Unit | 2/SW, 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

<<foi-eva.pdf>>

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Lisa Evans left an annotation ()

Dear Her Majesty's Treasury,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Her Majesty's Treasury's handling of my FOI request 'Training Materials for COINS'.

For the training materials given, the screenshots of COINS have been redacted.

You seek to rely on the exemption in section 43(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 however I consider that this exemption is not engaged as the screenshots are not trade secrets. The term 'trade secret' is not defined in the Act however the Information Commissioner has considered the meaning of the term (FS50156040).

In considering this question the Commissioner has noted that in Lansing Linde Ltd v Kerr [1991], the court defined a trade secret as "...information which, if disclosed to a competitor, would be liable to cause real (or significant) harm to the owner of the secret. I would add first, that it must be information used in a trade or business, and secondly that the owner must limit the dissemination of it or at least not encourage or permit widespread publication."

Firstly, the screenshots from the COINS database are not used as part of a trade but rather for the purpose of training public sector officials to use software as part of the administration of public finances.

Secondly, it is unlikely that the disclosure of screenshots would cause real or significant harm to the owners of the screenshots or even the owners of the software. A competitor would gain little advantage from screenshots as it would be unlikely that the system could be replicated without information about coding and data base structure that could not be gained from screenshots alone.

Thirdly, the fact that the COINS system is bespoke which means that it is unlikely to be suitable for other customers in its present form which further mitigates against any possibility of harm caused by the publication of these screenshots. It is also common in the software industry to provide screenshots in marketing materials and tender presentations which further suggests these should not be regarded as trade secrets.

Even if the exemption was engaged the screenshots should nevertheless be disclosed as there is a very strong public interest in the transparency of public finances and the systems and controls used to ensure that public funds are used effectively and in accordance with the law. There is a public interest in enabling members of the public to see that public officials are receiving appropriate training in the use of software and also that the software is fit for purpose.

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

Yours faithfully,

Lisa Evans

responses, FOI, Her Majesty’s Treasury

Dear Ms Evans,

Thank you for your email dated 9 April; we are interpreting this request as an internal review.

I write to confirm receipt of your request and to let you know that it is receiving attention. If you have any enquiries regarding your request do not hesitate to contact us.

Regards

Lisa Adams |Information Rights Unit
HM Treasury, 2SW, 1 Horse Guards Road, SW1A 2HQ

P Please consider the environment before printing this email.
www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

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Dear responses, FOI,

Please could inform me why this internal review has taken more than 20 days?

Yours sincerely,

Lisa Evans

responses, FOI, Her Majesty’s Treasury

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Evans,

Please find enclosed our response to your review request in relation to COINS screenshots.

Kind regards,

Kate Jenkins

Head of Information Rights Unit
HM Treasury

<<Review 16 10 - response.pdf>>

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Dear responses, FOI,

Thank you for this thorough review. I take your point that the screen-shots do not provide direct information on how public finances are managed.

Given the publication of large parts of the COINS data, that has occurred while this internal review was taking place, the value of the screen-shots is less.

I shall therefore not take this issue any further.

Many thanks,

Lisa Evans

Dear Her Majesty's Treasury,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Her Majesty's Treasury's handling of my FOI request 'Training Materials for COINS'.

Given the challenge of interpreting various releases of COINS data, it would be useful to have the full training notes (without redactions) in order to avoid unnecessarily interrupting the work of treasury staff with questions about COINS.

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

Yours faithfully,

Lisa Evans

Dear Her Majesty's Treasury,

Apologies, after reading the full notes, I realise that there are only screen shots redacted, and three instances of text. As I'm not concerned about the screen shots and the redacted text was replaced with a good alternative, I'm with drawing this internal review. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Yours faithfully,

Lisa Evans

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