11th bonfires – what FoI requests cost

In the spirit of these hard times I have also carried out some research into wasted public money on sectarian coat trailing exercises, for example did you know…

“The total cost across central government of dealing with FoI requests is £24.4 million per year.”

“For central government, the average cost of officials’ time for an initial FoI request is approximately £254.”

“Individuals that request information under the FoI Act are entitled to ask for an internal review if that information is withheld from them…. internal reviews are expensive for government departments. On average, an internal reviews costs £1,208 compared to £254 for an initial request, almost five times as much.”

“Serial requestors are those individuals who tend to be experienced users of the Act. Requests from serial requestors to central government take over three hours longer on average than those made by one-off requestors”

“They are a mixture of frivolous requests, disproportionately burdensome requests and requests that are explicitly designed to test the compliance of the Act. A number of examples are provided below.

A request for the total amount spent on Ferrero Rocher chocolates in UK embassies.

A request from a vintage lorry spotter to 387 local authorities for the registration numbers of all vintage lorries held in their stock.

A request for information on a sweater given to President George Bush by No.10.

A request for the number of eligible bachelors in the Hampshire Constabulary between the ages of 35 and 49, their e-mail addresses, salary details and pension values.

A request inquiring into the total cost of Fire engines,  street sweepers and Childrens’ Discos at 11th of July (except when the 11th is a Sunday then the 10th of July) bonfires in Northern Ireland.

A request for statistics and number of reports of sex with sheep and any other animals in Wales during 2003, and, if possible, since records began.”

These are edited (possibly made up too) quotes from a 2006 review of the FoI Act, the full text is available here.

www.foi.gov.uk/reference/foi-independent-review.pdf

I’m a progressive traditionalist, liberal conservative, left wing captialist, free thinking fundamentalist, am too fond of playing devils advocate for my own good, and a fondness for the occasional shock comment, put all that together with a tendancy to drop in the odd risky one-liner(occasionally even funny ones) would lead me to issue the appeal not to take what I say too seriously.