Freedom of Information

In June 2004 the Northern Ireland Audit Office published a report on the “Use of Consultants by Northern Ireland Government Departments”

This is a rather scary look at how the eventual costs of consultants are often significantly higher than that originally agreed, often by a factor of two or three. A while back, I made a Freedom of Information request to the NIAO to get further details on the almost 100 contracts examined as part of this report: who the consultants were, what the contract was, how much it was originally for, and how much was eventually paid.

This way I was able to discover, for example, that it was Cap Gemini Ernst and Young whose £30k for “Production of E-business strategy” eventually mushroomed to £183k.

But the real fun comes now when I request more details on each of these sampled contracts in turn. So this afternoon I took an hour and requested further information from each of 11 different Northern Ireland Government Departments. Most of them have forms on their website for making FOI requests, but I prefer to do this by email where possible so that I have better records of my requests. Actually finding an email address for doing this was rather tricky in many cases. Each department has a website that is arranged completely differently to others. Most have their main FOI link on their home page, but only a few actually list an email address there. Some have an explicit FOI contact on their ‘Contacts’ page instead. Others hide it in their Publication Scheme details. A few I wasn’t able to find at all, and had to just use a general email address.

It’ll be interested to measure the speed of responses compared to each other.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *