Third party contractors will not have to answer Freedom of Information requests, the government said on Thursday.
The results of a Ministry of Justice consultation, published last week, show that private-sector government contractors were worried about the cost of answering such requests.
"The next most common response, shared by 1 in 5 of respondents, was that an extension of the Act to their particular area of business was unnecessary because:
•their functions are not ‘functions of a public nature’;
•they already make information available on a voluntary basis or meet regulatory requirements; and/or
•information may already be obtained from another source, such as a public authority, which is resourced to provide it and with whom the duty should remain," said the results of the consultation.
The CBI was particularly vehement when it came to arguing against extending the FoI Act to private-sector government contractors, saying that the costs of FoI requests would have to be passed onto the taxpayer:
"Companies would find it extremely difficult to factor in FoI requests as a fixed cost when contracting with government and could set a price per request instead," said the CBI. "This would mean contracts may engender significant additional costs where companies receive a substantial number of FoI requests."
The government left itself the option of extending FoI to private sector contractors.
In addition, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) volunteered itself to come under the aegis of the Act.