Ministry matters

ICO: headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Cabinet office

Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez issued two decisions concerning the seat of the Ministry of Education and the Cabinet Office.

A spokesperson said: “On December 21, 2021, Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez released decision 17/2021, seat of the Ministry of Education [Ministry] and Decision 18/2021, Cabinet Office.

“In decision 17/2021, the Information Commissioner reviewed the ministry’s decision to transfer public access to information [PATI] request, which sought to obtain the documents of a judicial settlement, to another public authority. The department decided during the internal review stage that it did not have any records in response to the request.

“The PATI law assumes that all transfers will take place at the initial stage within five working days of receipt of the request. In this case, the PATI request should have been but was not transferred during the initial decision phase. The Information Commissioner has offered procedural guidance to heads of public authorities who may be faced with a situation similar to that referred to in decision 17/2021.

“After hearing the ministry’s submissions, the Information Commissioner confirmed the ministry’s internal review decision to transfer the request. However, it found that the department failed to complete the transfer, along with other procedural requirements, within the statutory or otherwise reasonable timeframe. Since the Applicant was sufficiently informed of the transfer during her review, the Information Commissioner did not ask the Department to take further action on the matter.

Summary of ICO Decision 18 2021

“In decision 18/2021, the Information Commissioner took into account the fact that the Cabinet Office had not issued an internal review decision within the statutory six-week deadline. The Information Commissioner recognized the good intentions on the part of the Cabinet Office and the requester to try to work beyond the statutory deadlines. She warned that in doing so, the applicant’s review rights were threatened. Nothing in the PATI law would have prevented the Cabinet Office from respecting the legal deadlines in the processing of the request, while voluntarily disclosing the files at a later date, for example, in the context of good customer service.

“The Information Commissioner ordered the Head of Authority of the Cabinet Office to complete the internal review and issue his decision to the requester by January 25, 2022.

“Decisions 17/2021 and 18/2021 are available on www.ico.bm.

The full version of Decision 17/2021 follows below [PDF here]:

The full version of Decision 18/2021 follows below [PDF here]:

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