FOI Practitioners' Conference: Future proofing FOI - Does FOI go far enough?

8th May 2018

Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee,

In a rapidly changing environment for the public sector and requester in light of Brexit, GDPR, growth in open data, changes in technology and drive towards increased transparency does FOI go far enough? What are the challenges faced? What's the likely impact for FOI practitioners?

Download Conference Programme 2018

Download Conference Presentations:

2018 CFOI Plenary

2018 Seminar-Aligning-GDPR-and-FOI

2018 Seminar - Models for Handling Information Requests

FOI Practitioners’ Conference: Where next for FOI?

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

This year’s conference will consider the future direction of FOI and EIR law in Scotland, at a time when there are significant changes on the horizon.  The General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force in 2018, will alter the way in which practitioners consider requests that involve personal data, while a European Court of Human Rights ruling may also require a fresh approach to the handling of certain types of request. The Conference will feature Rosemary’s final address to Centre delegates, reflecting on her time as Commissioner.  There will also be an exploration of the future of FOI, with no less than three Scottish Information Commissioners taking part: two former and one acting Commissioner.

Conference Programme 2017

Conference Presentations

GDPR Presentation - Christine O'Neill

Past Present Future - Rosemary Agnew

Seminar A - Free and frank discussion

Seminar B - Anonymisation

Seminar C - Proactive Publication

Seminar D - The ABC of FOI

The Magyar Ruling - Margaret Keyse

FOI Practitioners' Conference 2016

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

With the increased reliance on technology as a means of accessing information from public authorities, this year's conference will focus on the role of proactive disclosure as a means of safeguarding the right of access to information. Building on the Scottish Information Commissioner's mystery shopper exercise, this conference will consider how Scottish public authorities proactively disclose environmental information in addition to running a series of practical workshops on how to administer the regimes set out in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
Plenary Session
 Proactive Publication: Results of the SIC's mystery shopper exercise
  • The announcement in February 2016 that the Commissioner's office was to use a mystery shopping approach to monitor the quality of authorities' Guides to Information caused a ripple in the FOI community. Proactive publication has long been promoted by the Commissioner as an effective way to manage FOI within an authority. Be the first to hear our findings and reflections about the experience from the company which carried out the mystery shopping exercise, Craigforth Ltd. 
  • A panel discussion to follow will consider: what we've learned, what the value of the exercise is, what do the findings mean, and what should happen next. 
A: If knowledge is power, knowledge shared is power multiplied?
  • Can working in FOI feel a bit isolating? Ever wish you could bounce ideas off other practitioners, or wondered how other sectors handle things? Join the Commissioner's office for the launch of a new FOI group on the knowledge sharing platform, Knowledge Hub.
  • Hear from the Programme Manager for Knowledge and Collaboration at The Improvement Service (which set up Knowledge Hub). Seize the opportunity to tell us how you would like us to use Knowledge Hub.
B: Lessons learned from decisions and practice 
  • As you will know, the Commissioner publishes a weekly Decisions Round-up. Hear what the most commonly encountered learning points are - they may not be what you think!
  • Experienced FOI practitioners will also speak about a recent review of FOI handling within their authority. Learn about how they conducted the review, what they discovered and how they are planning to make changes as a result.
C: What is the role of open data in proactive publication?
  • What is the role of the publication scheme in helping you to meet your FOI duty? What role can open data play? Why is it worth investing time in publication of information and open datasets when you constantly have requests waiting for you to respond to? This session will consider each of these points, reflecting on the panel discussion from the morning session, and will talk us through some of the barriers to proactive publication and how to overcome them.
D: It's nothing personal: knowing - and helping others within your authority know - when it's ok to disclose personal data
  • Whether you are relatively new to FOI or have been handling FOI requests for personal data for a long time, you will get something out of our quiz on disclosing personal data under the FOI Act. Of course, you will not be the only one in your authority who needs to be comfortable with these boundaries. An experienced FOI practitioner will share tips for how to increase understanding within your authority (especially for those who don't work with FOI on a daily basis) about what's ok to disclose and what's not.

FOI Practitioners' Conference 2015

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee


A: What every FOI practitioner needs to know about re-use

An introduction to the forthcoming revised Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005, the main changes and implementation timetable.

By the end of this seminar you will be familiar with the new provisions (machine-readable formats, charging and copyright issues) and how these changes may impact on your handling of FOI requests and the advice to requesters who want to re-use your authority's information.

B: FOI requests from journalists

Are media FOI requests "lazy, time-wasting, vexatious fishing expeditions"? Or are they just asking the questions authorities least want to answer? What is it about FOI requests from journalists that gets your goat? We hear from two senior communications specialists about ways to manage requests and, in the process, build better relationships.

C: Ten things FOI requesters hate most?

That's the title of a recent article by FOI Man. Do we recognise the behaviours he thinks are "guaranteed to aggravate" requesters? Of course, it is not all one way: what are the ten things authorities hate most about FOI requests?  

How can we reduce the aggravation factor?

A practical hands-on workshop to extract the answers from the people who have them (the conference delegates)!

D: Managing FOI requests A-Z

Experienced FOI practitioners walk us through managing FOI requests from start to finish, sharing some hard-learned lessons along the way. This seminar is suitable for all delegates, but particularly those who are just starting out or feel the need for some confidence-building. It's a great opportunity to ask all those questions you've never dared to air!

E: How to avoid an FOI crisis (and what you can do when it happens)

How can you make sure your authority is a strong FOI performer? Learn about FOI governance arrangements, making the connections with records management and customer service. How can you test your resilience? 

And what can you do when things go wrong? Hear about authorities that have managed crises and what they did to build their performance and reputation.

Programme 2015

seminars 2015

FOI Practitioners' Conference 2014

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

Reflecting the ever-changing relationship between society and public authorities, this conference will highlight the current work being undertaken by the Open Government Partnership and place the right of access to information in the wider context of governance and accountability. In addition to this the conference will also explore the more practical elements of the information regimes operating in Scotland, in particular considering the differences between the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Practical Seminars

Practical Seminar A: Defining environmental information

In response to your feedback from last year's conference, this seminar will:

  • explain why the EIRs are different to FOISA
  • explore the definition of 'environmental information' through practical case studies
  • increase confidence in identifying requests that should be responded to under the EIRs
  • increase your familiarity with the resources available to help with requests for environmental information.

Practical Seminar B: Searching for information

This seminar will:

  • Increase understanding of the relationship between FOI law and public records legislation.
  • Promote the value of a positive relationship between FOI officers and records managers
  • Provide practical advice about making searches effective in your own authority and about holding colleagues to account for the results they provide.

 Practical Seminar C: Managing complex and challenging requests

This seminar will:

  • Increase awareness of different approaches to managing requests
  • Provide practical tips to help you manage complex and challenging requests made to your own authority.

Practical Seminar D: Engaging your manager

This seminar will:

  • Explore the role of senior managers in meeting FOI responsibilities
  • Promote the importance and relevance of FOI performance management
  • Promote good practice in review handling
  • Provide practical tips for engaging your managers in the FOI function.








FOI Practitioners Conference 2013

27 June 2013

Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

A full day event, packed with practical learning and networking opportunities for Scottish public authority staff who receive and respond to freedom of information requests.

On the programme:

    Current developments, including changes to legislation

    Getting information requests right first time

    Responding to challenging requests

    Publishing information proactively

    Balancing rights to information with privacy rights.





FOI Practitioners' Conference:  Building Stronger and Better FOI

29th May 2019

Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee 

Download Conference Programme 2019

Legal Update  - Euan McCulloch, Deputy Head of Enforcement

Seizing the Benefits  - Daren Fitzhenry, Scottish Information Commissioner

Seminar B Beyond the letter of the law: other tools in the FOI Officer’s toolkit - Claire Stephen, Sarah Hutchison

Seminar C Post GDPR: FOI requests for third party personal data

FOI Practitioner's Conference 24 and 25 August 2021 - Resilience: FOI and EIR During and After the Pandemic

centre foi logo

Our annual conference for freedom of information practitioners is taking place online this year, across two half days on 24 and 25 August 2021. 

The practitioners’ conference is specifically designed to provide anyone working in FOI for a Scottish public authority with practical advice and opportunities for discussion as well as the latest updates and developments in the field.

This year’s conference theme – Resilience: FOI & EIR During and After the Pandemic – is designed to reflect on these extraordinary times, during which the importance of transparency and access to information is clearer than ever while those working in FOI are having to adapt to changes in ways of working and the legislation itself.

The conference programme also has a new look, with the event split into two half-day sessions comprising a mix of presentations, authority case studies and facilitated discussions. Day 1 will look back on FOI during the pandemic, while day 2 will focus on the future.

View the full programme via the link below -

CFOI Practitioners’ Conference 2021 Programme and Workshop Details

CFOI Practitioners’ Conference 2021 Privacy Notice 

Presentations - Day 1

Day 1 Opening Gerry Hendricks

Day 1 Workshop A Impact of Covid on FOI – Margaret Keyse

Day 1 Workshop A Rachel Mitchell

Day 1 Workshop A Tara Palmer

Day 1 Workshop B Case Study Craig Geddes

Presentations - Day 2

Day 2 Opening Colin Reid

Day 2 Opening Lynn Wyeth

Day 2 Workshop - Future Approaches to Publication

Day 2 Workshop C Miles Watters and Angela Morrison

Day 2 Workshop C Lindsay Turpie

Day 2 Workshop D Jackie McKelvie