Quick fixes for the Act

Public sector organisations can make some "quick fixes" if they are struggling to meet the January 2005 deadline.

Public sector organisations can make some "quick fixes" if they are struggling to meet the January 2005 deadline.

One solution is to publish as much internal information on the web as possible, said Joan Fennelly, business consultant at change management consultancy Partners for Change.

Once the information is published it becomes exempt from the Act and government departments can deal with requests simply by referring the public to the web.

Partners for Change also advises local authorities to look at existing requests and to use these to predict likely requests under the Act.

Fennelly recommended that public bodies speak to their opposite numbers in countries that have already implemented freedom of information laws to see what lessons can be learned.

Consultants hesitate to recommend destroying information and documents to escape the Act, but there is also no doubt that a lot of local authorities are choosing this course of action. "There is quite a lot of destruction going on at the moment," said Paul Smith, technology director of Comino.

The reasons for this are not necessarily about evading the Act. Often local authorities have mountains of files they have not viewed for years and burning them makes the task of managing more relevant documents easier, Smith said.

Concern grows over IT's ability to meet Freedom of Information Act data requests >>

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