Feeds

Committee criticises DCA minister

'Disappointed' in FoI oversight

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs has criticised the government for failing to acknowledge the "serious threat" to Freedom of Information (FOI) in how electronic records are stored.

The cross party group of MPs have said they are "disappointed" with evidence provided by the Department of Constitutional Affairs minister Baroness Ashton on how the records will be preserved.

Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs says in its report Freedom of Information - one year on, released on 28 June 2006: "When the DCA minister Baroness Ashton came to give evidence to us about government plans to ensure the long-term preservation of documents held in digital form, we were disappointed by her failure to recognise that this was a serious threat."

It says plans are needed to handle the rapid and significant changes in technology and the "inevitable" degradation of storage media.

"National Archives and the DCA must take the lead in developing such plans," said the committee. "FoI has no force without a proper commitment to ensure that the information held is in a retrievable form."

Record management practices in some public authorities also need "substantial" improvement, warns the committee.

"More proactive leadership and progress management of departments' records management system is required."

Overall the committee finds the FoI Act a "significant success," due to the efforts made by public authorities to meet its demands. But it warns that delays in providing the information outside of the 20 day statutory deadline undermines the effectiveness of the act.

"In addition, lack of interpretation in the code of practice as 'reasonable' time limits enables public authorities to make indefinite extensions of many months in order to make public interest decisions and to conduct internal reviews," it says.

The committee recommends the DCA should also improve compliance, and finds that the complaints resolution process provided by the Information Commissioner's Office during 2005 was "unsatisfactory".

Requesters and public authorities said they have "waited months" for the commissioner to start investigating their complaints.

The commissioner responded to this by saying it will publish a progress report in September 2006, which the committee will use to assess whether any follow ups are needed.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
French 'terror law' declares WAR on the INTERNET itself, say digi-rights folks
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: Two out of three ain't bad
SCREW YOU, EU: BBC rolls out Right To Remember as Google deletes links
Not even Google can withstand the power of Auntie
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.