Freedom of Information - Frequently asked questions
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Freedom of Information (FOI)?
The Freedom of Information Act 1997 (FOI Act), which was passed into law on 21st April 1997, applies to IILT from the 21st January 2001. This act gives members of the public legal rights to:
· Access official records created since 21st April, 1998, which are held by Government Departments or other designated public bodies which are subject to the Act
· Access records relating to you personally, whenever created
· To have personal information corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading
· The criteria used by Public Bodies in making decisions that affect them
There are exemptions to protect sensitive information where disclosure may damage key interests of the state or citizen.
A person does not have to specify why access is required and the Government department or public body concerned must provide an explanation to the requester if access is refused.
For the purposes of the FOI Act, IILT Ltd. Is a registered charity (No: 347673) and is funded by The Department of Education and Science.
2. What are the benefits of FOI?
The FOI Act provides for greater access to official information by citizens.
The FOI Act is aimed at promoting more openness and accountability in the public service. It also aims to assist the public to become more informed about the services available to ensure that those who avail of the service or seek to do so receive the highest quality service possible, within the resources available.
3. Do I need to make an FOI request to get information from IILT?
No, it is not necessary to make an FOI request to get information from IILT. A lot of information is routinely made available by way of leaflets, press releases, publications and in response to enquiries. Such information will continue to be available on request without the need to use the FOI Act. If you are in doubt as to whether the information you require is routinely available, please contact the FOI Unit who can advise you further.
4. How does FOI work?
The Act requires IILT to respond to requests from the public for information they hold. In most instances IILT must give their decision on the request within 4 weeks of receiving it. IILT has produced reference manuals (FOI Section 15/16 Reference Manuals) setting out the structure of the organisation, the arrangements in place for providing information and any rules, guidelines or practices used in reaching decisions that effect the public. The reference manuals are available on request from IILT 126 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
5. Who can make an FOI request?
Anyone can make a FOI request
6. How do I make an FOI request?
There are 3 ways to make a request under FOI:
1. You can write to IILT stating that you are making an application under the Freedom of Information Act. Written applications should be sent to:
126 Pembroke Road,
Tel: 01 6677232
2. You can e-mail IILT at firstname.lastname@example.org stating that you are making a request under the FOI Act. If the statutory fee applies, you will be contacted directly by the FOI unit for payment
3. You can call to any IILT Centre and complete the form entitled “Request for Information under the Freedom of Information Act”. This form comes with a freepost envelope for your convenience.
When making a request under FOI, the following is required:
· State that the request is being made under the Freedom of Information Act 1997
· State your full name and address and give a daytime phone number (if any)
· Pay the prescribed application fee of €15 (Medical Card holders €10) for a request for non-personal records. There is no prescribed fee for personal records.
Details of Request, you should:
· State whether the request being made relates to personal or non-personal records.
· State the preferred form of access, if you wish to receive a copy of the record or wish to inspect the records at the IILT office
· Provide a description of the records required. The request should be as specific as possible to enable the information required to be identified.
· Provide proof of identity (your full birth certificate or passport and one other form of identity, example utility bill) before access is given to personal records.
You do not have to give a reason for making the request at any stage.
In cases where IILT is not clear what records are being requested, it will assist you to put the request in such a way that the records being sought can be identified.
7. Who will make the decision?
Decision Makers have been appointed by IILT and trained to deal with requests received by the FOI Unit. Decision Makers do not necessarily have to be working in the area of work to which the request relates, or located in the same region.
Decision Makers will be appointed by the FOI Unit and in the case of Centre Decision Makers in consultation with the relevant Manager.
8. Can I get help making the request?
Yes, if you require any help, the staff of the IILT FOI Unit will be happy to assist you in the formulation of your request.
9. How much will I have to pay?
There is an application fee of €15 for a request for non-personal records (Medical Card holders €10). There is no prescribed fee for personal records. Fees may also be charged based on the time spent in locating and copying records, at the hourly rate prescribed by the Minister for Finance.
You will be not charged for the time spent by IILT on deciding whether or not to grant the request.
In respect of personal records, fees will not normally be applied, except where a large number of records are involved.
Current Rates (Statutory Instruments 139 of 1998 and 13 of 1997)
1. Search and retrieval, €20.95 and where the estimated fee exceeds €50.79, a 20% deposit will be required.
2. Photocopying 4 cent per page.
3. Floppy disks 51 cent each
4. CD Rom €10.16 each
5. Radiograph (X-ray) €6.35 each
10. Can I get access to any information that I seek?
You can make a request for any record held by a public body covered by the FOI Act. This does not mean they you will get everything you request. There are exemptions and categories of information, which are not subject to the Act.
The FOI Act applies to IILT from the 21st January 2001 and the following records come within the scope of the Act:
· All records relating to personal information held by IILT irrespective of when they were created
· All other records created from the commencement of the FOI Act, 21st April 1998
· Records created prior to 21st April 1998 can be subject to the act, if they are necessary to understand a current record.
It may be necessary sometimes to exempt from release certain types of information; these are set out in the Act. Among the key exemptions are:
· Confidential information
· Commercially sensitive information
· Personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request). Should this be necessary, a full explanation of the decision will be given.
Some records might not be released to you, if the decision maker decides that the records are exempted.
11. How soon will I get a reply to my request?
All aspects of FOI processing are subject to time limits specified in the Act. IILT is obliged to acknowledge the request within 2 weeks and make a decision within 4 weeks.
If a third party is involved, it may be another 3 weeks to allow for consultation before you receive a response.
In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to extend the time and you will be informed.
12. If I am unhappy with the decision - what can I do?
If you are unhappy with the response, you may ask IILT to carry out an:
a)Internal Review, where a more senior member of the IILT staff will review the initial decision. There is an internal review prescribed application fee of €75 (Medical Card Holders €25). There is no prescribed fee for a review of a decision involving personal records.
If you are unhappy with the internal reviewer’s decision, you can directly appeal to the Information Commissioner, for an:
b)Independent review of the internal reviewer’s decision. There is a prescribed application fee for an Appeal to the Information Commissioner of €150 (Medical Card Holders €75). There is no prescribed fee for a review of a decision involving personal records.
Appeals may be made in writing directly to the Information Commissioner at the following address:
Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Telephone: 01 6395689
Fax: 01 6395674
Generally the Information Commissioner’s decision is final, however, there is a right to appeal to the High Court on a point of law.
13. Will IILT give reasons for the decisions it makes?
Yes, a person who is materially affected by a decision of IILT, may seek under the Act the reasons for the decision and any findings of fact made for the purpose of reaching that decision. This is intended to allow individuals access to reasons made, which affect them personally, and not decisions, which affect a whole class or persons, or the population generally.
14. Does the FOI Act cover all records or just recent ones?
The FOI Act became law on 21 April 1998. Under the Act, an individual is entitled to seek access to all personal records held regarding them, irrespective of when the information was created.
In the case of non-personal records the right of access will only apply to records created after 21 April 1998, however, records created prior to 21st April 1998 can be subject to the act, if they are necessary to understand a current record.
15. Does the FOI Act cover services provided to IILT by external contractors?
Yes, where organisations or persons provide services under contract to IILT , their records, insofar as they relate to the provision of that service, may be accessible under the FOI Act.