Department of Finance criticised for poor FoI record

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton

Simon Hamilton’s Stormont department has become only the second public body in Northern Ireland to be monitored because of its awful record in the Freedom of Information Act.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has placed the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) on its list of bodies across the UK which have the poorest record in responding to requests under the transparency law.

The ICO will review the department’s performance in how it handled requests between February 1 and April 30 2015.

The ICO’s Deputy Commissioner Graham Smith, said: “We hope these public authorities use their inclusion on the latest monitoring list as an opportunity to get their houses in order so they can provide an acceptable service to the public by handling requests more efficiently in the future.”

The decision means that both of the two Stormont departments to have been monitored (the other was the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister) have DUP ministers.

Mr Hamilton said his department “acknowledges its obligations” and is “working with the ICO Commissioner’s Office to address the issues he has raised”.

Hamilton’s department censured for refusal to answer FoI requests