Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Average Cost of FoI Compliance Equals Pounds 121

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Average Cost of FoI Compliance Equals Pounds 121

Article excerpt

A study into the costs of answering Freedom of Information enquiries suggests that less than Pounds 10 million was spent across the sector last year.

When the House of Commons Justice Committee called for evidence on the effectiveness of the FoI Act, 23 universities submitted evidence, of which 18 complained about the cost burden, among other concerns.

But Jisc, the UK's expert body on information and digital technology in higher education, tracked 36 requests in seven institutions and found that the average cost, including staff time, of answering an FoI request was Pounds 121.

According to Universities UK, higher education institutions received on average 10.1 requests a month in 2011. This equates to an average annual cost of Pounds 14,665, which across the sector's 155 institutions adds up to Pounds 2.3 million a year.

Steve Bailey, a senior adviser at Jisc infoNet who oversaw the research, explained that this was not the only way to count the cost of FoI legislation, as institutions still spent roughly Pounds 7.2 million a year on employing FoI officers.

There would be some "double counting" between the two calculations because FoI officers did some of the enquiry processing, but neither calculation included legal fees, he said. …

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