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Freedom of Outsourced Information.

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Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby Hairyloon » Tue Sep 13, 2016 9:47 am

A public body outsources certain tasks to an outside body. It receives an FOI request in respect of the cost of some of those tasks. Their response is to say that they don't hold that information because the work is outsourced: is that a valid reason to not answer the question?
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Re: Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby dls » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:20 am

It depends on the exact question.

The question might be as to how much the LA pays for the service.
It might be as to the cost to the outsourcing company of the work it does.

The first is a question which should be answered subject to commercial information protection.
The second may be information not in their possession.

FOI is in part about answering questions which can be answered easily.
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Re: Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby diy » Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:18 pm

Seems like a simple dodge for the LA if this is true. I'd find it hard not to see the outsourcer as an agent of the LA carrying out work on behalf of the LA.
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Re: Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby atticus » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:11 pm

I doubt that ability to avoid answering FOI questions figures in local authority outsourcing decisions.

If the LA has agreed to outsource a range of tasks for a global sum, then how is it to know the cost of the provision of one of those tasks?
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Re: Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby Hairyloon » Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:35 pm

atticus wrote:If the LA has agreed to outsource a range of tasks for a global sum, then how is it to know the cost of the provision of one of those tasks?

It could ask the contractor.
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Re: Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:58 pm

If it has to ask the contractor, then it follows that it doesn't hold the information.
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Re: Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby b1969 » Wed Sep 14, 2016 4:50 am

Nb that the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to information "held" by a relevant public authority, but "held by a public authority" can also mean, by section 3(2)(b) "held by another person on behalf of the authority". The Information Commissioner's Office guidance explains that

where information is held by a third party as a result of contractual arrangement, the provisions of the contract may indicate whether or not the information is held on behalf of the public authority


And the Upper Tribunal held, in University of Newcastle v IC and BUAV [2011] UKUT 185 (AAC), [2011], that

whether information is held on behalf of a public authority is “simply a question of fact”. In some cases it will be important to determine the exact nature of the legal relationship between a person holding information and the public authority, or to determine the legal structure pursuant to which information was created and held


So let's just say, it depends.
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Re: Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby diy » Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:06 am

atticus wrote:I doubt that ability to avoid answering FOI questions figures in local authority outsourcing decisions.

If the LA has agreed to outsource a range of tasks for a global sum, then how is it to know the cost of the provision of one of those tasks?


they would flow down their statutory obligations to the supplier in their Ts and cs. pretty standard stuff, that your avg corporate lawyers junior assistant would draft.
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Re: Freedom of Outsourced Information.

Postby atticus » Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:13 am

If that is how the outsourcing contract is structured. But if it is not ... see earlier posts.
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