UCL News


World's first Freedom of Information evaluation

4 October 2006

The UCL Constitution Unit has received two awards totalling £186,000 to conduct an evaluative study of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000.

Led by Research Fellow Sarah Holsen, the study will look at how the act measures up to the objectives set out for it prior to implementation in 2005, as well as how it has impacted the workings of the civil service. Data will be drawn from surveys of individuals who have requested information under the act, media content analysis, and case studies of six Whitehall departments.

The two awards are from the Economic & Social Research Council (£146,000) and the Department for Constitutional Affairs (£40,000). The project will begin in January 2007 and last for 27 months until March 2009. It is the first such evaluative study of its kind in the world.

In an earlier study, the UCL Constitution Unit conducted a survey of delegates at FOI Live 2006, the annual information rights conference for the public sector. Respondents reported that the most frequent users of the FOI Act were private individuals asking about government policies and the management of public funds, while the second most frequent users were journalists. Most respondents said that their organisations usually did grant the information requested of them. However, compared with previous surveys, a larger percentage of respondents reported that their FOI responses involved refusing to make a full disclosure.

To find out more, follow the links at the bottom of this article.