Headlines: August 4th, 2008

Public bodies are facing a renewed call to become more transparent. The Information Commissioner has issued new guidance underlining the need for minutes and agendas of meetings to be published routinely.

The Commissioner’s Office says the guidance is designed to help public authorities understand what information should be made public under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations. It states that they should be publishing minutes and agendas of public meetings and senior-level meetings.

The guidance also details documents which should be made public under other legislation, including the Local Government Act. It also makes it clear that where minutes or agendas refer to background documents they should, where possible, be published as well. At the same time the ICO guidance gives advice on information that authorities do not need to make public.

Dawn Monaghan, Senior Good Practice Manager at the ICO, said the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations had brought real benefits to both individuals and public authorities in the three years since they were implemented. “This guidance will help public authorities understand what information they should be publishing in relation to minutes and agendas of meetings. Routinely publishing this kind of information shows a commitment by the authority to be transparent and accountable,” she added.

The ICO has also updated its guidance to public authorities dealing with Freedom of Information Act requests about people who have died.