Government Transparency (or Lockdown Boredom)

Government Transparency (or Lockdown Boredom)

Last Updated on March 12, 2021 by RetiredAndAngry

I admit it, Lockdown has got to me. I am bored. I’m even bored enough to find out how various Government Departments perform, faced with incoming Freedom of Information Act requests.

I can hardly believe it, but it would appear that the Government actually pays someone to gather the data and make sense of it.

I wasn’t very bored so I only went back as far as 2015, just to see if there was any discernible difference between Government Departments. I have ignored data from a couple as they weren’t represented in every year’s data, and just confused me.

Different departments received different levels of requests, some many, others fewer. In order to make sense of the different levels I converted the numbers to percentages, thus allowing straightforward comparisons across Government.

Fig 1. Refusals

It should maybe come as no surprise to note that my old sparring buddies, the Home Office, are right up there as one of the top 3 or 4 ‘Refusers’.

For the benefit of anyone who is bored enough to know, the average Percentage Refused was 33%, so anybody above that (like the Home Office perhaps) is possibly fighting the system. A Low Number is definitely the way to go here.

I couldn’t be arsed to look into the various reasons for Refusing, so I went to Timeliness. Who is most efficient at getting their responses out within the 20 day limit?

Fig 2. Timeliness

Figure 2 above shows us that there is a difference in performance between Government Departments. A high number is definitely better here. The average across Government is that 87% of requests would receive a response within the 20 day time limit. Looking at a random Department such as the Home Office indicates that their performance has slid back slightly, and they are currently only achieving 81%.

If I had to comment on a random Government department such as the Home Office I would say that they are Underachieving. Doesn’t Try Very Hard, Could Do Better. Below average Timeliness and Above average Refusals indicates that they are part of the problem, not the solution when it comes to Government Transparency.

Enjoy the remainder of your Lockdown, I’m off for a Friday G&T.

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