December 13th 2018 | COSLA Conference Centre

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Thursday, 13 December, 2018


Registration, Exhibition and Refreshments


Opening remarks from the Chair

Liz Leonard, Journalist and Broadcaster

Session 1: Freedom of Information in 2018: a review of policy and practice

In this opening session we will look back on a busy year in Freedom of Information in Scotland, considering what the developments of the past 12 months will mean as we head into 2019. 


Minister’s opening remarks

Graeme Dey MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans, The Scottish Government


Questions to the Minister


Opening remarks from the Scottish Information Commissioner

Comments on the year past and the year ahead.

Daren Fitzhenry, Scottish Information Commissioner 


Questions to the Scottish Information Commissioner


The need for information in citizens’ hands

Rob Edwards, Journalist, The Ferret


Quick-fire table discussions followed by questions to Rob Edwards



11:15  Session 2: Masterclasses

Delegates will have the choice of which two 45-minute workshops to attend, in advance of the event you will regsiter for your preferred session to ensure that the themes align with the key issues you want answers to. 

You can choose from our three Masterclasses: 

A. What children and young people need to engage in FOI

B. How Scottish Information Commissioner Interventions can improve FOI practice

C. Uncovering the Environment: The use of public access to environmental information

Through a series of masterclasses delegates will be able to explore best practice in freedom of information.

Masterclass A: What children and young people need to engage in FOI

Research from the Scottish Information Commissioner shows that only 25% of secondary school pupils in Scotland know they have freedom of information (FOI) rights, compared to 85% FOI awareness amongst the adult population. In the Year of Young People, this is an exploration of what children and young people need to be better engaged in democracy and use their FOI rights more effectively.

Chair: Paul Mutch, Freedom of Information Officer, Scottish Information Commissioner with John Walker MSYP, Member for Almond Valley, Scottish Youth Parliament 


Masterclass B: How Scottish Information Commissioner Interventions can improve FOI practice

The Scottish Information Commissioner has the power to act where a public authority is not complying with FOI law or the Ministers’ Code of Practice. He may intervene at different levels in order to improve public authority FOI practice. This session enables you to find out more about the process, and purpose, of an intervention.
Chair: Lorraine Currie, Freedom of Information Officer, Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Sarah Hutchison, Head of Policy and Information, Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Graham Crombie, Head of FOI Policy, Scottish Government
  • Jennifer Veitch, Head of FOI Casework. Scottish Government
  • Callum Morrison, Information Management & Governance Officer, Scottish Funding Council

Masterclass C: Uncovering the Environment: The use of public access to environmental information

This masterclass will examine the special features of the regime for providing access to environmental information in Scotland and explore how it is being used.

Professor Colin T Reid, Professor of Environmental Law, University of Dundee

Dr Jonathan Mendel, Lecturer in Geography, University of Dundee

Dr Sean Whittaker, Post-doctoral Research Assistant in Law, University of Dundee



Session 3: Does FOI open the door to participation in democracy?

Jefferson said “information is the currency of democracy”, but does our FOI system enable or encourage democratic participation? This session will consider how public authorities can promote participation in democracy through good FOI practice and whether anything needs to change to make it easier for people get the information they need.


How Access To Information Can Promote Equality

  • Taking an Open Government approach to access to information
  • Access to / Accessible information
  • Information as an enabler for democratic participation

Kaela Scott, Head of Democratic Innovation, Involve


Using Open Data and FOI To Shape Public Services 

  • Internal automation to reduce burden
  • Deliver open data to reduce FOI
  • Enhance public service and improve delivery

Peter Tolland, Chief Information Officer, North Lanarkshire Council

Steven Revill, Co-founder & CEO, UrbanTide


FOI giving people a voice

Jeff Adamson, Scotlsnd Against the Care Tax Campaign


Quick-fire table discussions followed by questions to Session 3 speakers


Refreshments and Networking

Session 4: Is FOI working in contracted-out services and public procurement?

In November 2017, the International Conference of Information Commissioners approved a resolution on the right of access to information in relation to contracted out services and services delivered by non-public organisations. This session will examine FOI issues relating to public procurement in Scotland, including proposals to look at the extension of FOI.


FOI Informing Democracy 

Speaker TBC, Scottish Parliament


Mythbusting the Myths Behind Commercial Confidentiality of Contracts 

Concern about confidentiality of information in the contracts obscures vital details from the public, challenges better decision-making and monitoring of the procurement process and public spending. Research and field experience of Open Contracting Partnerships and our local partners across the world says otherwise. 

Hera Hussain, Senior Advocacy Manager, Open Contracting 


Extension of FOISA to Private Contractors is Long Overdue

Fiona Montgomery, Information Development Officer, UNISON


Questions and discussion


Closing remarks from the chair


Close of conference