Public Sector: Roca calls for 'transparency charter' on FOI

A local government comms boss has called for public sector bodies to launch their own 'transparency charters', after news that the Government could ease the rules on Freedom of Information requests.

Westminster City Council head of strategy Giles Roca said public sector bodies should not wait until proposals are enacted but should have their own transparency charter to make available as much information as possible.

FOI requests contribute to a large part of public sector comms officers' workloads in central and local government.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has revealed that the rules could be relaxed on FOI requests, in order for 'the most ambitious open data agenda of any government in the world' to be launched.

Maude has launched a public consultation that includes consideration of lifting the time limit and changing the fee structure of FOI requests.

But Roca said: 'Done this way, the information becomes less of a story and will reduce costs. Comms people need to be making this argument within their organisations and convincing chief execs and leaders that this is the only game in town.'

Former BBC media adviser Donald Steel welcomed Maude's plan, but said it might be appropriate to give authorities the right to refuse 'obviously silly' FOI requests.

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