Introduction

The following Publication Scheme has been prepared under Section 8 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2014. The Scheme comes into effect on the 14 April 2016. It is designed to facilitate the provision of information to the greatest extent possible, except for information exempted under the FOI Act.

The Scheme is web based and contains links to reference material on our website, which will be updated as provided for under the Act. A hard copy will be made available for viewing by appointment.

Who we are and what we do

The primary function of the Office of the Information Commissioner is to review decisions made by public bodies under the Freedom of Information Act, 2014 (the FOI Act).

Establishment

The Office of the Information Commissioner (the Office) was established under the FOI Acts 1997-2003 and the FOI Act 2014 provided for the continuance of the Office, for the purpose of providing an independent review of decisions made by public bodies on requests for access to records and to enable the operation of the FOI Act generally to be kept under review.

The Office is under the direction of the Information Commissioner (the Commissioner) and is itself a public body for the purposes of the FOI Act. Accordingly, its records may, subject to certain exceptions, be accessed by an FOI request.

Roles and Responsibilities

The role and responsibilities of the Office are to fulfil the requirements established under the FOI Act. That Act establishes certain statutory rights for each person:

  • A right to access information held by public bodies
  • A right to have official information relating to oneself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
  • A right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting oneself

The FOI Act enables persons to gain access to official information to the greatest extent possible, consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.

Functions of the Commissioner

The main functions of the Commissioner are:

  • To review (on application) decisions made by public bodies in relation to FOI requests and to affirm, vary or annul such decisions. If the decision is annulled the Commissioner may make a new decision
  • To keep the operation of the Act under review with a view to ensuring maximum compliance (this can involve investigation of the operation of the FOI Act, both generally and in relation to particular bodies)
  • To foster an attitude of openness among public bodies by encouraging the voluntary publication by them of information on their activities which goes beyond what they are obliged to publish under the FOI Act
  • To prepare and publish commentaries on the practical operation of the FOI Act

Records held in the Office

The range of records held in the Office falls within the following broad categories (some overlap may occur)

Internal Administration Records

  • Personnel Records
  • Accounts Records
  • Assets Register
  • Civil/Public Service Guidelines and Circulars
  • Published Media Coverage, including press cuttings
  • Speeches and Presentations by the Commissioner/staff of the Office
  • Contacts with public bodies including the names of liaison officers for each body covered by the FOI Act
  • Notes and minutes of management meetings and associated documentation
  • Records relating to publication of reports e.g. annual reports, including records relating to translation, tendering, designing and printing
  • Management of the website of the Commissioner
  • Management of case reviews
  • Statistics on case reviews
  • FOI requests for access to records held by the Office
  • Applications for review of FOI decisions outside the jurisdiction of the Commissioner
  • Data Protection Act requests for access to records held by the Office
  • General enquiries and correspondence

Policy

  • Contacts with the Department of Finance
  • Contacts with Oireachtas Committees
  • Decisions/Correspondence with equivalent offices in other jurisdictions

Legislation and related matter

  • Discussions with the Central Policy Unit in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regarding the operation of the FOI Act
  • Discussions with public bodies concerning the operation of the FOI Acts

Staff Instructions/Guidelines

  • Procedures for handling applications for review and enquiries
  • Liaison arrangements with public bodies

Reviews/Investigations by the Commissioner

  • Communications with the applicant, the public body and any relevant third parties
  • Records relating to FOI decisions being reviewed by the Commissioner
  • Submissions from concerned parties in connection with a review/investigation
  • Legal advice provided to the Office
  • Decisions of the Information Commissioner
  • Other records relating to reviews and investigations, including settlement details, case closure details, investigations, analysis, comment by officials of the Office

Commissioner’s other functions and duties under the FOI Act

  • Reports on the operation of the FOI Act
  • Annual reports
  • Records relating to Ministerial Certificates
  • Records relating to non-disclosure of records

Governance and Management arrangements

This Office is committed to best practice structures, processes and systems that support the successful operation of duties in an ethical, accountable, transparent and effective manner. Details of the Office's governance arrangements can be found in its Corporate Governance Framework document, which sets out the systems, principles and processes by which the Office is directed and controlled.

Corporate Plans & Strategies

The Office also contributes to, and is guided by, the wider Strategy Statement of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Annual Report

The Office’s Annual Reports are available on the website at Annual Reports.

Organisational Structure

Structure of the Office

Commissioner: Peter Tyndall
Director General: Elaine Cassidy
Senior Investigators: Stephen Rafferty and Deirdre McGoldrick (Principal Officers)
Investigators: 13 Assistant Principal Officers (11.8 WTE)
Investigating Officers: 4 Administrative Officers and 1 Higher Executive Officer
Support Unit: 1 Higher Executive Officer, 2 Executive Officers and 3 Clerical Officers

Pay Grading

The Information Commissioner also serves as Ombudsman, and as Commissioner for Environmental Information. The Ombudsman is also an ex officio member of the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO), the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Referendum Commission and the Constituency Commission. His salary is equivalent to that of a Secretary General III in the Civil Service.

Similarly, the Director General acts as director general for the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information. The salary is that of an Assistant Secretary in the Civil Service.

The salary scales of civil servants may be found in the circular available at the following link:

Location of the Office

The Office is located at 6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773

Opening hours: between 9.15 and 5.00 Monday to Friday.

Directions to the Office can be found here: Contact Us

Contact Details

Post: Office of the Information Commissioner, 6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773.

Telephone: +353-1-639 5689

Email: info@oic.ie

Media Enquiries

Contact David Nutley, Communications, Office of the Ombudsman

Phone: 01 639 5610 or 086 023 1420

Email: david.nutley@ombudsman.ie

Customer Charter

The Customer Service Charter sets out our commitments and the service standards you can expect from us. You can find this information here.

Code of Practice

The staff of the Office are civil servants in the Civil Service of the State and are therefore bound by the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour.

The service we provide

The Commissioner may review the following decisions made under the FOI Act:

  1. A decision to refuse to provide all records requested;
  2. A decision to refuse to provide a complete record;
  3. A decision to refuse to provide the record in the format sought;
  4. A decision to defer granting of access to the record;
  5. A decision to refuse to correct personal information;
  6. A decision under section 10 whereby reasons must be given for actions of public bodies which materially affect a person;
  7. A decision to charge a fee or seek a deposit before information is released;
  8. A decision to release records in the public interest when the records contain information that is personal, was given in confidence to the public body or is commercially sensitive;
  9. A decision to extend the time limit within which a request for access must be decided.

In most cases, the Commissioner cannot accept an application for a review if the requester has not availed of the internal review mechanism operated by the body itself. However, where the initial decision was taken by the head of the public body, an application for review of that decision should be made directly to the Commissioner without going through the internal review stage. Similarly, the decisions described at 7, 8 and 9 above and some deferral decisions encompassed at 4 above should be directed to the Commissioner without going through the internal review stage.

The Commissioner may not review decisions on FOI requests made to the Office. Subject to the provisions of the FOI Act, such decisions may be appealed directly to the High Court.

The Commissioner may not review a decision in a case where a ministerial certificate under section 34 of the FOI Act is in force. Section 34 contains a provision whereby a Minster of the Government may, by certificate, declare a record to be exempt from the scope of the FOI Act on the grounds that it “is of sufficient sensitivity or seriousness to justify his or her doing so.”

The Commissioner may refuse to grant an application for review where the application is considered to be frivolous or vexatious or where the application relates to a matter which is the subject of another review.

How our service can be accessed

A person seeking a review of a decision must apply to the Commissioner within specified time limits. Normally, an application for review should be made to the Commissioner within 6 months of the decision having been notified to the person. The Commissioner has discretion to extend this time limit – for as long as he may determine – where he feels there are reasonable grounds for doing so.

Generally, a two week time limit applies where:

  1. The decision to be reviewed relates to the extension of the time limit applicable to the public body for its own processing of an FOI request;
  2. The decision to be reviewed is one where a body has considered, in the public interest, releasing a record which contains information which is personal information, or which was given in confidence to the public body, or which is commercially sensitive, and it has consulted an interested third party about its proposed decision.

The Commissioner has discretion to extend the two week period in either case where he is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to do so.

Where an application for a review is made, the Commissioner must provide the body in question with a copy of that application.

Where the Commissioner decides to accept an application for review, the applicant, the public body concerned, and any other relevant person will be informed and invited to make submissions on the matter for consideration in the course of the review.

An application for review may be withdrawn at any stage up to the notification of the decision on the review.

Having received an application for review of a decision, the Commissioner may, where he forms the view that the body concerned has not given adequate reasons for its decision, direct that body to give fuller information on the decision to both the requester and to himself.

The FOI Act specifies that, in so far as practicable, the Commissioner should make a decision on a review application within four months of its receipt. The Commissioner will notify the parties to a review application of the decision and the reasons underpinning the decision. The Commissioner provides details in the Annual Report of the number of applications for review which have not had decisions issued within the preferred time limit.

The Commissioner may refer any question of law arising in the course of a review to the High Court for determination and may postpone the making of a decision following the review until such time as he considers convenient after the determination of the High Court.

Subject to the requirements of the FOI Act, the Commissioner decides his own procedures for the conduct of a review. The FOI Act also authorises the Commissioner to try to effect a settlement between the parties as an alternative to a formal decision. Where the parties agree to such an approach, the Commissioner may, with the consent of the parties, suspend the review, and, where a settlement is reached, discontinue the review.

How much it costs to access our service

The fee payable to access our service depends on the type of application for review being submitted. Below is a list of the fees to be charged.

Type of Review Fee payable
Access to a personal record relating to the requester. No Fee
Amendment to records (Section 9 of the FOI Act). No Fee
Statement of reasons (Section 10 of the FOI Act). No Fee
Appeal decision of a public (FOI) body to charge a fee.
Fees may apply in respect of the search and retrieval and/or copying of records which are the subject of an FOI request.
No Fee
Request to which Section 37(8) of the FOI Act applies. No Fee
Access to a non-personal record. €50
Access to a non-personal record by the holder of an Irish medical card or a dependant of a medical card holder.
NB: The Office will require a photocopy of the relevant medical card
€15
Third parties appealing a decision of a public body to release their information on public interest grounds (Section 29 of the 1997 Act, or Section 38 of the 2014 Act). €15

Full details of fees payable, as well as the option to pay fees online, can be found at Apply for Review.

Right of appeal relating to the service we provide

The Commissioner’s decision on a review is binding on the parties concerned. Such a decision may be appealed to the High Court on a point of law only, and, subsequently, to the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal.

Research projects undertaken by the Office

The Commissioner has published reports on the operation of the FOI Act. To date, the following reports have been published:

  • A Study of Section 15 & 16 (FOI Act 1997-2003) Manuals published by public bodies
  • Investigation into the Operation of Section 10(1)(a) of the FOI Acts
  • Review of the Operation of the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003
  • 10th Anniversary Publication - "Freedom of Information: The First Decade"
  • The Freedom of Information Act – Compliance by Public Bodies
  • Commentary of the Information Commissioner on the FOI Act
  • Report on Non-Disclosure Provisions of the FOI Act to the Joint Oireachtas
  • Committee on Finance and the Public Service (section 32)
  • Information leaflet on the FOI Act and the role of the Information Commissioner
  • Guidance notes on various sections of the FOI Act
  • Investigation under Section 44 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2014

The above reports can be found on our website at Publications.

How we make decisions

The Office is a review body and does not make public policy. However, the Commissioner occasionally provides comments on relevant policy proposals.

Financial Information

Vote 19 (Office of the Ombudsman) funds the activities of an organisation comprising the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission for Public Service Appointments (Programme A); Standards in Public Office Commission, including the Regulation of Lobbying function (Programme B); and, the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (Programme C).

These offices carry out separate and distinct statutory functions: nonetheless they function as a single amalgamated agency under one Vote and one Accounting Officer and corporate management board which manages the organisation while simultaneously protecting and preserving the statutory independence and functions of each of the constituent parts. Each office has its own complement of staff but the finance, human resources, accommodation and information technology functions are shared between all offices.

 
 
 

C&AG Appropriation Account for Office of the Ombudsman

At the end of each financial year, each department is required to prepare an account known as the Appropriation Account. The Appropriation Account provides details of the outturn for the year against the amount provided by Dail Eireann. The 2019 Appropriation Account can be accessed here.

 
 
 

Revised Estimates

Revised Estimates are a detailed version of Budget Day Estimates and include information on spending within individual programmes along with the overall financial allocation for our Office. Revised Estimates also include key high level output metrics, context and impact indicators. These provide information on our expenditure and the impact the expenditure is having. The Revised Estimates for 2021 for the Office of the Ombudsman can be viewed on pages 69-73 of the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2021 download, available here.

Procurement Information

 

Public procurement refers to the process by which public bodies purchase works, goods or services from suppliers which they have selected for this purpose. It ranges from the purchase of routine goods or services to large scale contracts for infrastructural projects and involves a wide and diverse range of contracting authorities.



The Procurement Policy of the Office can be found here.


The following are links to guidance documents for suppliers:

 

 

 

Payments over €20,000

 

There is a commitment in the Public Service Reform Plan that all purchase orders for €20k or over shall be published online. The Office publishes this information on a quarterly basis. View our publication here.

 

 

 

FOI Disclosure Log

A list of all non-personal FOI requests received by the Office since 1st January 2015 can be viewed here:

Non-personal-FOI-requests.xlsx

Records released under Request:

FOI.2015.003.pdf

FOI.2016.003.pdf

FOI.2018.002.xlsx

FOI.2018.004.pdf

FOI.2018.010.pdf

FOI.2018.011.pdf

FOI.2019.003.pdf

Iarrataí Saoráil Faisnéise ar an Oifig

Faoin Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise, tá gach duine i dteideal iarratas a dhéanamh ar rochtain ar fhaisnéis nach bhfuil ar fáil don phobal ar shlí eile.  Tríd is tríd, tá duine i dteideal na nithe seo a leanas:

1.    Rochtain a fháil ar thaifid atá i seilbh na hOifige.

2.    Go gceartófaí faisnéis phearsanta, a bhaineann leis féin, agus atá i seilbh na hOifige, i gcás ina bhfuil an fhaisnéis sin míchruinn, neamhiomlán nó míthreorach.

3.    Rochtain a fháil ar chúiseanna le breitheanna a thug an Oifig agus a chuaigh i bhfeidhm go díreach air.

Ní faoi raon feidhme an Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise a thagann gach taifead atá i seilbh na hOifige.  Níl feidhm ag an Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise maidir le hathbhreithnithe faoi alt 44 ná le himscrúduithe faoi alt 22, seachas taifid a cruthaíodh sular tosaíodh an t-athbhreithniú nó an t-imscrúdú lena mbaineann, nó taifead a bhaineann le riarachán ginearálta na hOifige.  D’fhéadfadh go mbeadh taifid eile ar fáil faoin Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise (faoi réir na ngnáthdhíolúintí) – e.g. taifid a bhaineann le riarachán na hOifige, amhail cúrsaí pearsanra nó teagmhálacha ginearálta le comhlachtaí poiblí. 

Ba cheart iarrataí Saoráil Faisnéise a bhaineann le taifid na hOifige a sheoladh chuig:


Damien Cahill
Oifigeach Idirchaidrimh um Shaoráil Faisnéise
Oifig an Choimisinéara Faisnéise
6 Ardán Phort an Iarla
Baile Átha Cliath 2, D02 W773

Teileafón: +353-1-639 5729, Ríomhphost: info@oic.ie

Ba cheart iarrataí a dhéanamh i scríbhinn agus ba cheart a shonrú iontu go bhfuil an iarraidh á déanamh faoin Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise.  Ba cheart an fhoirm a bhfuiltear ag iarraidh na taifid a fháil inti – e.g. fótachóipeanna/diosca – a lua san iarraidh freisin.  Ionas go mbeifear in ann na taifid atá á n-iarraidh a shainaithint, ba cheart d’iarrthóirí cur síos atá chomh mionsonraithe agus is féidir a dhéanamh ar na taifid.  Más féidir é, ba cheart uimhir theagmhála is féidir a úsáid le linn uaireanta oifige a sholáthar ionas go mbeifear in ann na sonraí faoi iarraidh Saoráil Faisnéise a shoiléiriú.  Cabhróidh foireann na hOifige le hiarraidh Saoráil Faisnéise a chur le chéile, más gá. 

Admhóidh an Oifig iarraidh faoin Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise laistigh de dhá sheachtain ón iarraidh sin a fháil.  Luafar san admháil sin go mbeidh sé de cheart ag an iarrthóir athbhreithniú inmheánach ar an mbreith a iarraidh sa chás nach mbeidh sé sásta leis an mbreith Saoráil Faisnéise a eisíodh.  Eiseofar an bhreith laistigh de cheithre seachtaine.

An Ceart chun Athbhreithniú Inmheánach ar Bhreith

Foráiltear leis an Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise do cheart chun athbhreithniú inmheánach ar bhreitheanna comhlachtaí poiblí.  Féadfar athbhreithniú inmheánach a iarraidh i gcásanna inar diúltaíodh d’iarraidh Saoráil Faisnéise nó inar deonaíodh go páirteach í agus i gcásanna inar iarchuireadh rochtain.  Is féidir athbhreithniú inmheánach a iarraidh freisin i gcásanna ina bhfuil aighneas faoin bhfoirm rochtana nó faoi leibhéal na dtáillí a ghearrtar.  Meastar gur diúltaíodh d’iarraidh Saoráil Faisnéise i gcásanna nár eisíodh breith laistigh de cheithre seachtaine ón iarraidh Saoráil Faisnéise a fháil.

Ba cheart iarrataí ar athbhreithniú inmheánach ar bhreitheanna na hOifige a dhéanamh i scríbhinn chuig:


Damien Cahill
Oifigeach Idirchaidrimh um Shaoráil Faisnéise
Oifig an Choimisinéara Faisnéise
6 Ardán Phort an Iarla
Baile Átha Cliath 2, D02 W773

Teileafón: +353-1-639 5729, Ríomhphost: info@oic.ie

Cinnteoidh sé gurb é oifigeach atá ag leibhéal níos airde ná an t-oifigeach a thug an bhreith bhunaidh Saoráil Faisnéise a dhéanfaidh an t-athbhreithniú.  Ba cheart iarraidh den sórt sin a dhéanamh laistigh de cheithre seachtaine ón mbreith bhunaidh a fháil.  Is gá an bhreith tar éis athbhreithniú inmheánach a eisiúint laistigh de thrí seachtaine ón iarraidh a fháil. 

Faisnéis arna foilsiú ag an Oifig

Is é an aidhm atá leis an Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise rochtain a cheadú ar fhaisnéis atá i seilbh comhlachtaí poiblí agus nach gcuirtear ar fáil don phobal mar chúrsa gnáthaimh ar shlí eile, faoi réir díolúintí, nósanna imeachta agus teorainneacha ama áirithe.  Tá an fhaisnéis seo a leanas faoi ghníomhaíochtaí agus faoi fheidhmeanna na hOifige ar fáil gan dul i muinín an Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise.

Tuarascálacha Bliantúla

Cuireann an Coimisinéir tuarascáil faoi bhráid an Oireachtais gach bliain maidir le gníomhaíochtaí na hOifige le linn na bliana roimhe.  Is féidir tuarascálacha bliantúla a fháil sna háiteanna seo a leanas:

  •          An Oifig ag 6 Ardán Phort an Iarla, Baile Átha Cliath 2, D02 W773.
  •         Ar ár suíomh Gréasáin ag  tuarascálacha bliantúla.

Nótaí Treorach:ar fáil anseo.

Foilseacháin eile

Foilsíonn an Coimisinéir tuarascálacha ar oibriú an Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise freisin.  Foilsíodh na tuarascálacha seo a leanas go dtí seo:

  • Staidéar ar Lámhleabhair Ailt 15 agus 16 (na hAchtanna um Shaoráil Faisnéise, 1997-2003) arna bhfoilsiú ag comhlachtaí poiblí
  • Imscrúdú ar Oibriú Alt 10(1)(a) de na hAchtanna um Shaoráil Faisnéise
  • Athbhreithniú ar Oibriú an Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise (Leasú), 2003
  • Foilseachán Comórtha 10 mBliana - “Saoráil Faisnéise: Na Chéad Deich mBliana”
  • ráchtaireacht an Choimisinéara Faisnéise faoin Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise
  • Tuarascáil ar Fhorálacha Neamhnochta den Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise chuig an gComhchoiste Oireachtais um Airgeadas agus an tSeirbhís Phoiblí (alt 32)
  • Bileog faisnéise faoin Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise agus faoi ról an Choimisinéara Faisnéise
  • Nótaí treorach maidir le hailt éagsúla den Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise
  • Imscrúdú faoi alt 44 d’Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise, 2014


Tá na foilseacháin go léir thuas ar fáil saor in aisce ón Oifig nó ar an suíomh Gréasáin anseo.

Suíomh Gréasáin

Tá tuilleadh faisnéise faoin Oifig ar fáil ar ár suíomh Gréasáin (www.oic.ie).  Áirítear leis an bhfaisnéis sin:

  • Faisnéis faoin gCoimisinéir agus faoin ról atá aige
  • Faisnéis faoin Oifig, lena n-áirítear conas a chomhlíonann sí an Scéim Teanga, an tAcht um Míchumas agus athúsáid Faisnéis Earnála Poiblí
  • An téacs iomlán de na hAchtanna um Shaoráil Faisnéise, 1997, 2003 agus 2014, agus na Rialacháin a rinneadh fúthu sin
  • Liosta de na Comhlachtaí Poiblí go léir faoi raon feidhme an Achta um Shaoráil Faisnéise
  • Conas iarraidh Saoráil Faisnéise a dhéanamh chuig an Oifig
  • Conas iarratas a dhéanamh chuig an gCoimisinéir le haghaidh athbhreithniú ar bhreith Saoráil Faisnéise a thug comhlacht poiblí
  • Gach cinneadh ón gCoimisinéir
  • Gach Breithiúnas ón Ard-Chúirt, ón Chúirt Uachtarach agus ón Chúirt Achomhairc ar achomhairc in aghaidh chinntí an Choimisinéara
  • Óráidí agus Láithreoireachtaí ón gCoimisinéir agus ó fhoireann na hOifige
  • Treoir maidir leis an Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise
  • Nótaí Treorach maidir le hailt den Acht um Shaoráil Faisnéise

 

S.I. No. 426/2014 - European Union (Energy Efficiency) Regulations 2014

Under the terms of these Regulations the energy consumption and performance of all public sector organisations must be reported annually. The secretariat to the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information and the Commission for Public Service Appointments is provided by the Office of the Ombudsman at its offices in 6 Earlsford Terrace, Dublin 2. This report itemises energy usage across the whole office.

Annual Energy Efficiency Report 2020