Freedom of Information (FOI)
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives you the right to ask any public sector organisation for all the recorded information they have on any subject.
The Data Protection Act 1998 gives any individual (data subject) the right to request access to all the information held about them. This is a Subject Access Request.
Anyone can make a request for information – there are no restrictions on your age, nationality or where you live.
The Commission already makes a wide range of information publicly available, so please search this website and our Publication Scheme before placing a request.
How to make an FOI request
Requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Data Protetion Act 1998 must be made in writing, either by email or by post. You can write to us at:
Civil Service Commission
1 Horse Guards Road
London SW1A 2HQ
Or you can email us at:firstname.lastname@example.org
When making a request please provide the following:
Your name and address for correspondence.
A clear statement of the information you are requesting. Please provide as much detail as possible to help us identify and locate the information you have requested.
A contact telephone number in case we need to discuss your request.
The form in which you wish to receive your information eg. by email or in hard copy.
We may ask you for proof of identity in the case of a Subject Access Request. This is to protect the identity of the data subject and ensure that the Data Protection Act 1998 is not breached.
Please be as specific as possible when requesting the information you require. If you need advice or assistance defining your request, please ask us. You can call us on 020 7271 0831.
What we do when we receive your request
We will acknowledge your request as soon as we can.
We will inform you if we require further information in order to identify and locate the information you have requested.
Once we have all the information we need from you we will search through the relevant records and collate the information. If third parties are named in that information, we may have to consult them before deciding whether it can be released.
How long will it take?
Requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 will receive a response within 20 working days following the date we receive your request. If we have sought clarification of the request, the 20 working day period does not start until that is received.
Subject Access Requests under the Data Protection Act 1998 will receive a response within 40 calendar days. If, however, we need more information from you before we can start dealing with the request, the 40 days will not start until we have that information.
If we need to extend the timescale to give proper consideration to the request then we will inform you of this.
Are there circumstances in which the Freedom in Information Act 2000 obligations will not apply?
In some circumstances, certain types of information may be withheld if there is a good reason for doing so. The Information Commissioner’s Office website lists the exemptions under which a public body may refuse to release information, most of which involve the application of a public interest test. If your request is refused, we will identify which exemption(s) we are relying on and will explain why we have decided that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing.
The Civil Service Commission publishes information whenever possible, rather than only making it available on request. The Commission’s Publication Scheme specifies the categories of information that it publishes or intends to publish and how to obtain that information.
If information is available under the Publication Scheme we are not obliged to provide the information to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 because it is deemed (under the exemption in section 21) to be already reasonably accessible to you. Where this is applicable, we will respond to your request by explaining how you can access the information.
Consultation with third parties
If your request relates to a person or company other than yourself or where disclosure of the information you are requesting could affect the interests of another person, we may need to consult with that third party before responding to your request.
How is information released?
When making your request for information please state how you would like to receive the information.
If you express a preference for receiving a copy of the information requested, or a digest/summary, or for being given the opportunity to inspect the records containing the information, we are obliged to accommodate your preference unless it is not reasonably practicable for us to do so. When requesting information be provided in a particular format you should take into account the cost of supplying the information in this format, which may take the cost of the request over the fee threshold.
Rights of Review
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request, or wish to request an internal review, you should write to:www.ico.gov.uk
Civil Service Commission
1 Horse Guards Road
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal review conducted by the Civil Service Commission, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for an independent review. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Civil Service Commission. Requests for a review by the Information Commissioner should be addressed to:
The Information Commissioner’s Office