Scottish suppliers face FOI demands

18 December 2009
 18 December 2009 | Paul Snell

Suppliers to public sector organisations in Scotland could soon be exposed to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Scottish government is considering broadening the act to include contractors whose work includes the building and maintenance of schools, hospitals and highways, those that operate prisons and outsourced providers of leisure, sports and cultural services.

A formal consultation on the issue with organisations that would be affected will begin in spring 2010. It follows a discussion paper out earlier this year in which the general public supported the principle.

“It is important organisations who deliver key public services for the people of Scotland operate transparently so the public can be reassured we are getting high-quality services and value for money,” said Bruce Crawford, Scotland’s minister for parliamentary business, in a statement.

“I am also sympathetic to the view that people should be able to ‘follow’ the expenditure of public money through their access to information, in particular in relation to private finance initiative and public-private partnership contracts, which tend to be high-value and long-term.”

The government in England and Wales earlier this year rejected a similar proposal after a consultation, saying expansion of the act was not “appropriate at this time”.

Crawford added the government was keen to understand what the cost and burden of extending the act would be, and whether it would risk efficiency and the competitiveness of vendors.
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