10 July 2019
Nearly 37,000 FOI requests were made to public bodies last year. The figure is an 8.5% increase on 2017, and an increase of 32% on 2015, the first full year since fees for making FOI requests were abolished.
Speaking after the publication of his annual report for 2018, Information Commissioner Peter Tyndall said that the HSE received the highest number of requests with 10,706 made to the health organisation.
The Information Commissioner also said that there is still an unacceptable number of cases where public bodies failed to make a decision within the required time-frame when an FOI request is received. Public bodies failed to issue a decision at either the initial decision-making stage or ‘internal review’ stage in 28% of all cases accepted by the Commissioner’s Office.
As a result, the Information Commissioner is currently conducting an investigation of compliance with the relevant deadlines within a select number of public bodies and will publish a report of his findings later in the year.
543 applications for review of decisions of public bodies were made to the Commissioner’s Office in 2018. An all-time high of 64% of cases were completed within four months, with the Office completing more cases than were received during the year.
276 cases were closed by way of a binding decision, including the following:
The Information Commissioner’s annual report for 2018 is available on the Commissioner’s website.
Peter Tyndall is also the Commissioner for Environmental Information. The role of the Commissioner is to decide on appeals by members of the public who are not happy with the outcome of their requests to public authorities for environmental information under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations.
The Commissioner’s Office reviewed more cases (54) in 2018 than in any other year since it was established in 2007. In contrast to the performance of public bodies under the FOI Act, the Commissioner welcomed a significant decrease in the number of cases where a public authority failed to make a decision, or issued a late decision, on an environmental request - a decrease of 25% at both first and second stage of the decision-making process.
The Commissioner for Environmental Information’s annual report for 2018 is available on the Commissioner’s website: www.ocei.ie