The ICO & FoIA – A Potentially Far-Reaching Decision Notice (DN)
Information held by an Authority’s contractor is held ‘on behalf of’ the Authority. The latest Decision Notice has upheld our complaint and potentially starts to address a ‘major loophole’ in the Freedom of Information Act (read more here – Campaign for Freedom of Information).
Even the Information Commissioner acknowledges ‘[t]he laws are no longer fit for purpose’ and urged contractors should be brought under FOIA (2019 report to Parliament ‘Outsourcing Oversight’). We have done much to assist the ICO in this regard as evidenced by this latest finding.
The Signed decision Notice, which can be read here, sets out the type of information available and why. But in brief, the DN relates to the charging methodology contractor, Kier Highways Ltd., has been using to bill 1,000’s of drivers, fleets, hauliers or their insurers (Third Parties), between 10/2015 and 2020, sums that we have long argued were misrepresented, inappropriate and represented profiteering in the name of Highways England:
- Are odd in so much as they are far higher than the contractor charges Highways England and
- Contained uplifts for which the contractor could find no authority
The DN has potentially far-reaching consequences for Highways England whose use of contractors has, for years, been just one of the ploys they utilised to keep important conduct and information secret.
“I ask to be provided for the below 15 claims:
1. The Cost Breakdown Document (CBD)
The CBD will be in their original spreadsheet (Excel) format, with no alteration /amendments of the content and the cells will contain their references to associated/linked workbooks. These ‘workbooks’ have recently been referred to by your General Counsel, Tim Reardon as a schedule of rates.
2. The associated workbooks/worksheets referenced in each of the
3. If the workbooks/sheets are unavailable:
a. Why they cannot be produced i.e. why they were deleted/discarded
b. Why they cannot be located
c. When they were used, the date:
i. From and
The 15 claim references are below, in the following format:
Invoice number… [the Commissioner has not included the list of 15 claim references]”