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ICO to revise publication scheme requirements

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News release: 17 May 2012


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today announced that new changes will be made to the information public authorities will need to release proactively as part of their publication scheme.

Publication schemes are key documents that set out what information a public authority will make available about how it works. Today’s news follows an ICO consultation on the content of publication schemes which closed in December. 

The ICO has now published a staged action plan explaining how the new model scheme, definition documents and guidance will be developed. The changes reflect the responses received from public authorities, ideas generated in three workshops and suggestions from members of the public who submitted their views through the recent Tell Me More campaign.

The feedback shows that the ICO’s guidance on publication schemes is highly valued, but that a new Model Publication Scheme needs to reflect the advances made in central and local government on transparency. This includes releasing information in reusable formats and reflecting the open data agenda including the Open Government Licence and planned changes to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to be brought in through the Protection of Freedoms Act.

Announcing the action plan Christopher Graham, UK Information Commissioner, said:

“Over the past year the theme of greater transparency and accountability has become of central importance. This has impacted on the information public authorities should proactively release as part of their publication schemes.

“We would like to thank those who contributed to our recent consultation. Today’s action plan reflects the comments received and explains the next stage of the process ahead of the publication of our new Model Publication Scheme in April next year.

“Open and reusable data sets will be increasingly significant to the way public authorities operate and it is vital that these initiatives to improve transparency are reflected in our future guidance.”  

The ICO will review and update all sector definition documents, which will explain the information authorities in different sectors should release. Each document will cover a separate sector, from Central Government Departments to schools, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A revised Model Publication Scheme will then be introduced on 1 April 2013 which will apply to all sectors, with the definition document providing sector specific guidance to accompany the main scheme.

 

Notes to Editors

1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

3. The ICO is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and produces a monthly e-newsletter. Our Press office page provides more information for journalists.

4. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides individuals or organisations with the right to request official information held by a public authority. The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) provide access to environmental information. The ICO’s policy on enforcing public access to official information and the powers at its disposal are set out here:

5. If you need more information, please contact the ICO press office on 0303 123 9070 or ico.gov.uk/press