Request for information – FOI14462
Please provide under Freedom of Information, all correspondence internal and external (including but not limited to emails and letters) in connection with the INSPIRE Dataset and the User Derived Dataset Contract To/from xxxxxx and/or xxxxxx with Ordnance Survey Senior Managers and Directors or external government bodies from September 2013 to the present day.
Thank you for your e-mail of 5 April 2014, requesting the following information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
Ordnance Survey is able to advise that there is one item of internal correspondence between xxxxxx and a Senior Manager and that there is held internal correspondence between xxxxxx and Ordnance Survey Senior Managers/Directors within the scope of the request.
There is no external correspondence between xxxxxx or xxxxxx and external government bodies within the scope of the request; therefore this information is not held.
We consider the held correspondence to be exempt from disclosure under Section 36 (2) (b) (i) and (ii) of the FOIA, ‘Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs’ and Section 43 (2) Commercial Interests. In addition, the one item of correspondence between xxxxxx and a Senior Manager relates to an e-mail between xxxxxx and Jonathan O’Meara; as such, it has already been considered as part of your Request for Information numbered FOI14461, and is exempt under Section 42 (1) of the FOIA, for the reasons set out in our response to such request.
Section 36 (2) (b) (i) and (ii)
We consider this exemption is engaged, because the information within the scope of your request has been created for the purpose of internal deliberation.
Whilst the results of such deliberation have been made available by the OPSI correspondence, previously disclosed to you under FOI14461, the internal deliberation, exchange of views and discussion in reaching a position has not, and is exempt.
This is because disclosure of such information would inhibit the future ability of public authority staff to express themselves openly, honestly and completely, or to explore extreme options, when providing advice or giving/exchanging views as part of the deliberation process.
By inhibiting the provision of advice or the exchanging of views it will impair the quality of decision making, and without such discussions our ability to deliver successful business outcomes would be undermined.
Section 36 requires us to consult the qualified person to engage this exemption.
Following such consultation, it is the reasonable opinion of the qualified person that detailed public knowledge of the contents of the requested information would inhibit the future provision of free and frank advice for the purpose of deliberation.
The qualified person further considers that the release of the information would deprive employees of the ability to express their views within a deliberation process and would eventually restrain, decrease or suppress the freedom with which opinions or options are expressed or recorded.
Consequently, the qualified person is satisfied there is public interest in favour of withholding information which could affect the smooth running of any business, and where disclosure would make it less likely that people would engage in discussions as part of a deliberative process, less likely that decisions would be taken collectively and where it would make it difficult for departments to act collaboratively and cohesively.
The qualified person is therefore satisfied that it is reasonable to withhold this information in accordance with the exemption in this instance.
Section 43 (2)
We also consider that the requested information is additionally exempt under Section 43 (2) Commercial Interests.
We consider this exemption is applicable, as the information you have requested relates to the formulation of Ordnance Survey’s commercial licensing terms. Whilst our generic licensing terms are already in the public domain, any discussion, deliberation and challenges in arriving at a final position are not.
Section 43 (2) is a qualified exemption and we are required to consider where the greater public interest lies.
Ordnance Survey is a non-Ministerial Government department and Executive Agency, reporting to Parliament through Ministers. Since 1999 we have had government 'Trading Fund' status, giving us more responsibility for our own finances and planning and we also operate as a commercial entity in a narrow commercial environment, where there are many competitors.
Disclosure of the information relating to the thought process and other commercial factors in reaching a final position would undermine our commercial position, which ultimately would affect our incoming revenue, making it difficult for Ordnance Survey to maintain its governmental task – given that we receive no direct funding from Parliament; therefore being prejudicial to our commercial interest.
We do recognise the requirement for transparency, but this has to be balanced against the public interest in allowing business to be able to protect their own Commercial Interests, so that those authorities covered by FOI are not disadvantaged or placed in a less favourable position by the disclosure of commercial information, when competitors are not subject to the same disclosures.
Consequently, we are content that the public interest is best served by withholding the information under this exemption, to ensure the commercial interests of Ordnance Survey are not undermined, and our governmental tasks can be fulfilled.
Your enquiry has been processed according to the FOIA. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:
FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:
- Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
- Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
- Failed to provide the information you have requested
- Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
- Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception
The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.
The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.
Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:
The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.