The Constitution Unit


FOI Live 2010: The Future of FOI?

6 July 2010

FOI Live 2010 sought to reflect upon the experience of FOI after five years and look at what future directions the Act and the wider transparency agenda may take.

The event included a presentation from the new Minister with responsibility for FOI, Lord McNally. Lord McNally spoke of the new government's commitment to increased openness and, in parallel to this, its concern to protect the privacy of its citizens. Lord McNally announced a call for evidence for how the data protection is working ahead of EU negotiations (see http://www.justice.gov.uk/call-for-evidence-060710.htm)

Deputy Information Commissioner Graham Smith reflected on the five years of the FOI. He examined some of the difficulties and landmark cases in the first years of the Act and ended by looking ahead to some of the future challenges for FOI, in particular the changing appetite for information and opportunities that technology presents.

Ben Worthy presented the Unit's findings from its two year study of FOI and Whitehall. He analysed how and why FOI has met some of its objectives and not others and spoke of some of the myths and paradoxes of FOI.

The question and answer session, with expert contributions from the MOJ, ICO and Campaign for Freedom of Information, covered a broad range of areas relating to the issues faced by FOI officers. Topics included records management, proactive disclosure and the publication of officials' salaries.

Lastly there was a discussion of the future of FOI and examined how far the Act had come. FOI has clearly increased openness. But there can be difficulties involved in bring about a change of culture within organisations. The day ended with a drinks reception where delegates networked and chatted with the speakers.

Programme: Tuesday 6 July 2010

2.00 - 3.30pmSpeeches by ICO and MOJ representatives
Presentations covering developments in FOI and information rights
3.30 - 4.00pmTea break
4.00 - 5.15pmQ&A session: Belinda Lewis (MoJ), Graham Smith (ICO) and Maurice Frankel (Campaign for Freedom of Information)
As with the close of the 2009 conference, we will have a panel representing various groups and bodies who will answer questions from the audience
5.15 - 5.45pmPresentation/Discussion
Short presentation from the Constitution Unit on our forthcoming book Does FOI Work?
5.45 - 7.00pmDrinks reception