I received a long awaited response from the Information Commissioner this morning regarding an FOI I submitted to the Welsh Government back in March 2010. The original request related to matters surrounding the handling of the Powys Fadog project based in Llangollen. Along with others who had submitted FOI's on the same topic, we have spent the last 13 months jumping through numerous hoops of internal reviews and complaints to get the information we're clearly entitled to. Unfortunately other individuals are still going through this process to challenge ridiculous delays in getting information and some of the heavily redacted documents they've been given to date. Even now, I know for a fact that certain information in relation to my request has still not been released.
Finally, a response has come through today confirming that the Welsh Government have breached sections 10(1), 1(1)(b) and 17(1) of the Act in failing to provide responses within 20 working days. The formal decision notice from the Commissioner goes on to list his concern that it took 80 days for the Welsh Government to complete an internal review, that he sees no justification for the delay and that he wishes to register his view that the Welsh Government fell short of the standards of good practise in dealing with the request.
All well and good but who is going to enforce this and ensure something is done about it? Although the Information Commissioner has confirmed the legislation has been breached a number of times, no disciplinary action has been taken and in fact the Information Commissioner is well aware that the Welsh Government are continuing to flout the legislation, with several requests receiving no response at all. Essentially all they've had is a slap on the wrist. Surely when legislation has been broken, disciplinary action should be taken. In these cases, it can be considered that the Information Commissioner is actually complicit with WAG in allowing these breaches to continue. As stated above, several individuals I'm aware of are still waiting with no resolution to their requests. A further request I submitted back in April of this year has taken 40 working days up to now, with the Government simply saying they are considering whether or not to send me the information!
So why are the Welsh Government so reluctant to hand over information on this topic I wonder? So much for openness and transparency.