1. The Wales Audit Office recognises the value of openness in promoting trust and accountability in public business, in enabling better public understanding of how public authorities carry out their duties and in deterring impropriety and poor performance. This summary of procedures sets out the Wales Audit Office's general approach to achieving compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and related legislation, as well as achieving openness generally.
2. In addition to compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and related legislation, the Wales Audit Office is committed to:
3. The Wales Audit Office will as far as is reasonable and practicable:
4. The Wales Audit Office will as far as is reasonable and practicable, provide requesters and potential requesters with advice and assistance in relation to their requests for information. Members of the public requiring advice in respect of access to information should contact 029 2032 0500.
5. Where a person is unable, for example, because of disability, to make requests under the Freedom of Information Act in writing, a written note of any telephone request will be sent to the person to confirm what was requested, which will be accepted as a written request when returned to the Wales Audit Office.
6. Disclosure may affect the legal rights of third parties, such as where information is subject to the common law duty of confidence, or where it constitutes personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1998. So as to help ensure that such rights are given due regard, the Wales Audit Office will consult with relevant third parties, except where this is impractical or disproportionately expensive. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the determination of whether information should be disclosed, will, however, remain the Wales Audit Office's decisions.
7. Overall, the Wales Audit Office will disclose requested information that it holds except where:
8. Where the Wales Audit Office refuses to provide information, the response will identify why and include advice on how to make a complaint.
9. Having responded to an information request, we will consider whether it is in the public interest to publish the relevant information in our disclosure log or by other means. The Information Commissioner regards this as good practice. If we conclude that there is appreciable public interest in wider disclosure, we will, at our discretion, publish accordingly. We will not, however, publish the following information:
10. The Wales Audit Office will acknowledge your request within five working days.
11. The Wales Audit Office will respond to requests for information within 20 working days, or 60 working days in specific circumstances. A working day means any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank holiday. Where the period is extended, the requester will be informed of the delay and will be given an estimated response date.
12. If a note of a request made by telephone has been prepared by Wales Audit Office staff on behalf of the requester, the 20 working day commitment takes effect from the date on which the requester confirms the note of the information requested.
13. The Wales Audit Office cannot provide information that it does not hold. If another public authority holds the information, and if it seems that the requester is unlikely to object, the Wales Audit Office may consult the body and transfer the request if appropriate. The requester will be advised of the transfer. Alternatively, the Wales Audit Office will advise the requester that the information is not held by the Wales Audit Office and suggest that a request be made to the authority that is likely to hold it.
14. It should be noted that local government audit information is often only held by auditors appointed by the Auditor General for Wales and, if so, it is not held by the Wales Audit Office (the Auditor General and his or her staff). Local government auditors, while appointed by the Auditor General, are separate office holders and are not public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act. There is therefore no right of access under that Act to such information. The Wales Audit Office will forward requests for such information to the relevant auditor. However, except in relation to the requester's personal information (and possibly environmental information), disclosure by the appointed auditor will be discretionary and subject to the restrictions on disclosure provided by section 54 of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004.
15. Requesters will generally be provided information in either Welsh or English, and in either electronic form or paper, according to their preference. Most information will be made available on the internet, but equivalent single paper copies will be available usually without charge. The Wales Audit Office will also make large print and audio tape copies of items available on request where practicable.
16. Where a requester is not satisfied with a response, they may complain to the Information Officer or the person who responded to the request, who will review the situation and provide a considered response. If after pursuing the Wales Audit Office's complaints procedure, the requester is still unhappy with the outcome, he or she may refer the complaint to the Information Commissioners' Office who, in most circumstances, will expect the Wales Audit Office's own procedures to have been exhausted before the matter is referred to his office. Contact details of the Information Commissioners' Office are:
18. If you have questions about these procedures or need advice or other help in making a request, please call the Information Officer on 029 2032 0500, email email@example.com, or write to:
The Information Officer
Wales Audit Office
24 Cathedral Road