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.
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).
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.
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:
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.
The main functions of the Commissioner are:
The range of records held in the Office falls within the following broad categories (some overlap may occur)
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.
The Office also contributes to, and is guided by, the wider Strategy Statement of the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Office’s Annual Reports are available on the website at Annual Reports.
|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|
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:
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
Post: Office of the Information Commissioner, 6 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, D02 W773.
Telephone: +353-1-639 5689
Contact David Nutley, Communications, Office of the Ombudsman
Phone: 01 639 5610 or 086 023 1420
The Customer Service Charter sets out our commitments and the service standards you can expect from us. You can find this information here.
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 Commissioner may review the following decisions made under the FOI Act:
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.
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:
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.
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.
|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
|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.
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.
The Commissioner has published reports on the operation of the FOI Act. To date, the following reports have been published:
The above reports can be found on our website at Publications.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
A list of all non-personal FOI requests received by the Office since 1st January 2015 can be viewed here:
Records released under Request:
FOI Requests to the Office
The FOI Act does not cover all records held by the Office. The FOI Act does not apply to records related to reviews under section 22 or investigations under section 44 other than records created before the commencement of the review or investigation concerned, or a record relating to the general administration of the Office. Other records – e.g. those relating to the administration of the Office such as personnel matters or general contacts with public bodies – may be available under the FOI Act (subject to the standard exemptions).
FOI requests relating to records of the Office should be made to:
FOI Liaison Officer
Office of the Information Commissioner
6 Earlsfort Terrace,
Dublin 2, D02 W773
Telephone: +353-1-639 5729
Requests should be made in writing and should specify that they are being made under the FOI Act. The form in which the records are sought – e.g. photocopies/disk – should be stated in the request. To allow identification of the records sought, requesters should describe the records in as much detail as possible. If possible, a contact number which can be used during office hours should be provided for the purpose of clarifying the details of an FOI request. The staff of the Office will assist in the formulation of an FOI request, if necessary.
The Office will acknowledge a request under the FOI Act within two weeks. This will include notification that, in the event that the requester is not satisfied with the FOI decision issued, there is a right to request an internal review of the decision. The decision will issue within four weeks.
Right to Internal Review of a Decision
The FOI Act provides for a right to internal review of decisions of public bodies. An internal review may be requested where an FOI request has been refused or partially granted or where access has been deferred. An internal review can also be requested where the form of access or the level of fees charged is disputed. Refusal of an FOI request is deemed to have occurred where a decision has not issued within four weeks of receipt of the FOI request.
FOI Liaison Officer
Office of the Information Commissioner
6 Earlsfort Terrace,
Dublin 2, D02 W773
Telephone: +353-1-639 5729
who will ensure that the review is carried out by an official at a higher level than the official who made the original FOI decision. Such a request should be made within four weeks of the original decision. The decision following internal review must issue within three weeks of its receipt.
Information published by the Office
The FOI Act is intended to allow access to information held by public bodies which is not routinely available by other means subject to certain exemptions, procedures and time limits. The following information about the activities and functions of the Office is available without the need to use the FOI Act.
The Commissioner submits a report to the Oireachtas each year in relation to the Office’s activities during the previous year. Annual reports are available from:
The Commissioner also publishes reports on the operation of the FOI Act. To date, the following reports have been published:
The above publications are all available free of charge from the Office or on the website here.
Our website (www.oic.ie) contains more information about the Office. This includes: