Module 1 - Response rates
This module is about how quickly you respond to requests and complete internal reviews. The criteria relates to the 20 working days provided in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Extensions are allowed to consider the public interest test and there are specific variations to the time for compliance as detailed in our guidance.
This module provides an opportunity to reflect on how many requests are responded to within 20 working days.
When calculating the response rate, we recommend using the most recent quarter’s data. It is important to choose an appropriate time scale to give an accurate reflection of current performance. There is little value in using one week’s data as this could be an unrepresentative week, while there may also be little value in reviewing a year’s worth of data, as it is unlikely to reflect current performance.
Module 2 - Handling requests
Handling requests is about how the public authority is able to receive an FOI request and its ability to complete the request within the statutory timescales. The questions within this module include how processes are documented, their availability to your colleagues and how the public authority learns from previous request handling.
Module 3 - Training and awareness
It is important that all staff are trained in FOI procedures. The level of staff training might depend on their role. However all staff should be trained in how to recognise a request, what to do if you receive a request and, if the role requires it, how to complete a request. All staff should also be aware of the timescales for completion of a request and their role in meeting the requirements set out under FOIA. Once training has been delivered, refresher training should be provided to staff on a regular basis to ensure their knowledge is up to date.
This module makes you think about and understand how your training is provided and how you make colleagues aware of their FOI responsibilities.
Module 4 - Compliance and assurance
This module looks at how your public authority manages its FOI requests, whether it is able to understand its compliance with the FOIA timeframes, if it can identify performance levels at an individual case or group level and react to issues to improve performance.
Module 5 - Governance structure
Governance structure defines who is responsible and accountable for FOI within your public authority. The questions are a guide to some of the governance structures which are important for achieving good FOI performance.
Please be aware that each public authority is different and you need to decide what is appropriate for your specific organisation.
It is also important to ensure that the person completing this section has appropriate knowledge so that an accurate picture of the governance structure is gained.