Jisc case studies wiki Case studies / Freedom of Information (FOI) Research Project Case Studies
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Freedom of Information (FOI) Research Project Case Studies

During January 2012 JISC infoNet paid seven institutions £3,000 each to record the time and costs expended across the institution in answering five requests each identified as fulfilling the criteria of a request received under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The objective of this work was, for the first time, to calculate the true and total costs associated with responding to such requests and to identify any ways in which individual institutions could thereby reduce the cost of compliance.


Though the sample was small this research project was able to calculate that the average cost of answering an FOI request within an HE institution is £99.40, rising to £121.27 if staff oncosts are included.


Data gathered by the seven institutions suggests that organisations with 'mature' records management systems and processes may be able to save time and therefore money when it comes to identifying, locating and accessing information requested under the FOIA, but that a lot still depends on the precise nature of the questions asked and information requested. The evidence also suggests that any savings realised through improvements made to records management may well be largely negated by other factors and variables at play within the rest of the institution. Some of these variables cannot be influenced (e.g. the size of the institution) and others potentially can (e.g. the grades of staff involved in different parts of the request handling process).


Each of the seven institutions case studies are available to read below.