9 June 2005 - Scotland Group Meeting
FoI & Records Management in Scotland
The second meeting of the RMS Scotland Group took place on Thursday 9th June at the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh. The meeting was a great success, attracting 60 participants - a full house!
The theme of the day was FoI and Records Management in Scotland and had a full agenda with no less than seven speakers representing a diverse range of Scottish Public Authorities. The morning sessions focussed on the FoI experiences of three distinct organisations:
Iain Flett, City Archivist with Dundee City Council, kicked off the event with a very entertaining talk which described Dundee's RM team's preparations for the Act and their experiences since Jan 1st delivering FoI.
Edith Pringault-Adam, Records Manager with Tayside Police, took a broader look at how FoI was rolled out across the Scottish Police regions and agencies.
Jane Mackenzie from the Freedom of Information Unit at the Scottish Executive, like Iain, focussed on the Scottish Executive's FoI experience.
Although the three speakers came from 3 very diverse organisations, certain themes cropped up again and again:
- the lack of resourcing - it was clear from both speakers and audience that in most cases FoI has had to be delivered 'within existing resources' or even more euphemistically in a 'Resource Neutral' environment
- the importance of relationships between departments, stake holders, sector specific agencies and working parties
- the contribution FoI has had in raising the profile of records managers and records management in organisations
- the changing nature of requests for information, there was consensus that the number of RFIs are decreasing but becoming more complex
- the confusion between Data Protection, F0I and EIR requests - internally, staff are often unclear on the differences between these and the public do not really care what legislation their request falls under, they just want the information.
The afternoon kicked off with Alison McKinnon, Information Manager with Scottish Environment Protection Agency. SEPA have taken a 'business as usual' approach integrating EIR requests with their general information handling processes.
Claire Sigsworth, FoI officer with the Office of the Scottish Information Commission, reported on the OSIC's experience of managing applications for decision since the Act came into force. Her comprehensive presentations included details of OSIC's ongoing promotional work and how practice recommendations will be managed.
Delegates representing commercial organisations found Donald Henderson's explanation of the implications of FoI for commercial organisations very useful. This area seems to have had a higher profile down South than in Scotland, but it was clear from the questions at the end of Donald's presentation that there is a need for guidance for both public authorities and commercial organisations in this area. Donald also spoke about Perth and Kinross's experience of delivering FoI.
James McCormack, Inspecting Officer with the Government Records Branch of the National Archives of Scotland, kindly stood in for Dr Hugh Hagan. He had the unenviable task of delivering the final presentation after a very full day. He rose to the task admirably and spoke about the archiving role of NAS and the resourcing implications of FoI.
Martin Sanderson, Vice Chair of the Records Management Society, closed the meeting with a summary of the day's talks, highlighting the main themes that had repeatedly raised themselves throughout the day.
Iron Mountain kindly sponsored the event, funding the buffet lunch during which delegates seized, with enthusiasm, the chance to network and exchange their views and experiences.
National Archives of Scotland, HM General Register House proved to be an excellent venue and graphically demonstrated the reality of records management in the 21st century, surrounded, as we were, by both shelves of ancient, leather bound books and the latest remote controlled technology, from projector and screen, to entry doors. (At one point we were whisked into the set of a comic sci fi movie as delegates rushed through those relentlessly closing doors!) The event was a huge success and a clear indication that the Scottish Group is going from strength to strength.
Our next event will be in Aberdeen in September. Details will be e-mailed to all participants and other RMS members in Scotland and placed on the RMS Web Site.
EIRs - the 5 minute guide 9 June 2005 (PPT, 59.5 KB)
FoI - we are not doing ourselves a service 9 June 2005 (PPT, 204 KB)
FoI & Records Management - Applying the Code - Notes (DOC, 53 KB)
FoI & RM in the Police Service 9 June 2005 (PPT, 186.5 KB)
Making the EIRs work - SEPA 9 June 2005 (PPT, 166.5 KB)
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