Exclusive: Poll: FoI can ‘weaken policymaking’

More than half – 56 per cent – of all senior civil servants and grade six and seven officials believe that the Freedom of Information Act sometimes prevents open and honest policy discussions, exclusive research by CSW has found.

By Joshua.Chambers

05 Sep 2012

CSW conducted a poll of 1,053 civil servants – of whom 429 were in the senior civil service or grades six and seven – on the subject of policymaking reform. One question asked: “Former cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell has argued that the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) is deterring officials, advisers and ministers from having full and open discussions within formal policymaking processes. What’s your view?”

In response, 14 per cent of senior grades said that FoI “often prevents open and honest policy discussions, weakening policymaking debates and resulting in policymakers using informal communication channels.” A further 42 per cent said that it “sometimes prevents open and honest discussions”, with 18 per cent saying that it’s “damaging the quality of policymaking” and 24 per cent that it results “in policymakers using informal communications channels”.

See the full special report.


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