Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), public authorities, including the Department for Infrastructure, are obliged to make information available to the public. This includes information placed in the public domain in response to a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a Model Publication Scheme and sector specific definition documents that commit public authorities to make information available to the public as part of normal business activities. These documents make clear that there is an obligation on public authorities to be open and transparent whenever possible.
In the definition document for Northern Ireland Departments, the Information Commissioner’s Office makes clear that it is best practice to make available, via a Disclosure Log, responses to FOI or EIR requests for information. The legislation states that any information provided under FOI or EIR is considered to have been published, and is already in the public domain. There is no reason, therefore, why responses provided in responses to FOI/EIR queries should not, subject to suitable redaction of personal data of those making requests, be made available by the Department.
Information Management Unit seeks to publish the responses to all requests received by the Department, as soon as possible once the responses have been issued. Information being made available is normally accessible via the Department for Infrastructure’s website (though there may be occasions, such as when the applicant was invited to view a file in a DfI office, that that may not be the case).
Unfortunately, publication via the Disclosure Log will not always be as quick as either you or the Department may wish, and there will be a number of weeks between a response being issued and that response being published via the DfI Disclosure Log.
There are two common ways by which you can access these requests and responses.
- Firstly, by use of the “Search this site function, above, although it helps to know a reference or to have some information about the subject matter of the request; and
- Secondly, by clicking on “Publications”, and then selecting FOI/EIR responses, and then scrolling through all the requests processed and currently published by the Department.
If you cannot find a specific request that you are looking for, please do not hesitate to contact DfI Information Management Unit and we will do our best to make available all the information that the legislation allows the Department disclose.