Part 1: Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) gives the public the right of access to information held by public authorities and requires public authorities to make this information available. The intention of the Act is to increase visibility into the work of public bodies, to ensure that policymaking processes are fair, democratic and open.

Part 2: Publication scheme

The FOI Act requires all public authorities to produce a publication scheme that specifies the classes of information which the public authority publishes or intends to publish. To comply with the FOIA, the publication scheme sets out:

  • what information the Department will make available, classified by type of information
  • how you can access the information.

In May 2008 the ICO issued guidance on new model publication schemes, which public authorities were being encouraged to adopt from 1 January 2009. The Department has adopted the relevant model scheme.

The classes of information defined in the new guidance are:

  • who we are and what we do – organisational information, locations and contacts, constitutional and legal governance.
  • what we spend and how we spend it – financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, tendering, procurement and contracts.
  • what our priorities are and how we are doing – strategy and performance information, plans, assessments, inspections and reviews.
  • how we make decisions – policy proposals and decisions. Decision making processes, internal criteria and procedures, consultations.
  • our policies and procedures – current written protocols for delivering our functions and responsibilities.
  • lists and registers – information held in registers required by law, and other lists and registers relating to the functions of the authority.
  • the services we offer – advice and guidance, booklets and leaflets, transactions and media releases. A description of the services offered.

Information on these categories (and much more besides) is already published on the Department's website. You can use the following methods to search for information we already publish:

  • navigate to the main topic headings included on the Department's homepage
  • the main search field
  • the A-Z facility.

In addition, the transparency page gives information about ministerial meetings; data underlying statistical releases; hospitality; expenses; travel; spending; energy consumption and much more. And in the About the Department section you will find organisational details; annual reports; business plans and consultations.

If you cannot find the information you are searching for or wish to make a FOI request, contact the Public Communications Unit.

Part 3: FOI disclosure log

The FOI disclosure log is a selective log of information provided by the Department in response to requests for information since the FOI Act came into full force on 1 January 2005. The log is divided into topics. Each response consists of a summary of the request, the information provided in response and the date on which the information was disclosed.