Some great ideas here. Thanks to both you and Kevin.
I’m not sure that amending legislation would improve response times. FOIA s.10 already requires responses, “promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day”. The code of practice issued by the Cabinet Office under s.45 says these should any internal review should be complete within 20 working days. So anyone on the ball can get their information within 40 working days right? Wrong! The bit which takes at least six months is when the public authority give totally pathetic excuse for not disclosing information and it has to be referred to the overworked and under-resourced Information Commissioner to investigate. The ICO implemented a new triage system about 18 months ago but that doesn’t alter the fact that they are under-resourced. I asked for a copy of the report into potential bullying by Priti Patel last September. It made it through triage and if I’m lucky I might get a decision notice some-time this year. An appeal can delay disclosure for a further year. Changing the legislation won’t fix that.
Using outsourcing to put information beyond disclosure is also a massive problem. The ICO have asked for amendments to primary legislation, s.3 FOIA and regulation 3 of EIR https://ico.org.uk/media/about-the-ico/documents/2614204/outsourcing-oversight-ico-report-to-parliament.pdf.
So, rather than a change to s.10, how about pushing for a properly funded regulator but also remind the minister that the Information Commissioner herself has asked for reforms around that £284 billion black hole of outsourcing. (That was Jan 2019. You can probably double it now.) I’m not sure the current government has any appetite for transparency, but that shouldn’t stop citizens continually demanding it.
PS don’t let me anywhere near a meeting with a government minister. I’m just a disruptive trouble maker.