Understanding the Formulation and Development of Government Policy

Between October 2008 and March 2009, the Constitution Unit at UCL conducted a research project about formulation and development of government policy, on behalf of the ICO.

The aim of the project was to research and produce a study of policy formulation and development in central government, to assist in the further development of the Commissioner’s policy framework for casework related to the exemption under section 35(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 - information which relates to the formulation or development of government policy.

The report covers:

  • An overview of literature covering the background and context of government policy making
  • An overview of policy lifecycles and models currently used in central government
  • An exploration of what is meant by the term “government policy”
  • Case studies that track the evolution of government policy
  • Evidence from interviews with senior civil servants and ex-Ministers on the realities of how the process works and the impact of disclosure of policy information under FOI
  • An overview of overseas experience on the interaction between Freedom of Information laws and policy formulation and development

The report was published 11 June 2009 and the research findings are available below.

Understanding the Formulation and Development of Government Policy in the context of FOI

Freedom of information: three years on

In December 2007, Continental Research Ltd conducted the Freedom of information: three years on research project on behalf of the ICO.

Continental Research Ltd is an independent market research company which adheres to the Market Research Society's Code of Conduct. Continental Research Ltd has also conducted the Freedom of information: one and two years on research projects.

The research was commissioned to understand how public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland feel the Freedom of Information Act is working in practice, what their perceptions are and how they see it working in the future. The findings have been compared with the results from the previous two waves of research conducted in 2005 and 2006.

The report on the research findings, a copy of the questionnaire and the full market research report are available below:

Research findings
Research questionnaire
Full report

Stakeholder perception study

A commitment of the stakeholder relations strategy, launched in 2007 is to track progress of our actions. As a result a survey was undertaken in March 2008 to measure perceptions of the ICO amongst key stakeholders.

The stakeholder perception study involved stakeholders which have a high interest in what we do and can have a high influence on ICO, data protection and freedom of information issues.

The research was conducted on behalf of the ICO by Jigsaw Research and Critical Research, both independent market research agencies based in London.

Stakeholder perception study: research report