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Appendix K

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act, 1997 which came into force on 21st April, 1998 was amended in 2003. It is now cited as the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003.

Its purpose is to facilitate the rights of members of the public to access official information which is, to the greatest extent possible, consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.

The Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003 amongst other things establishes three statutory rights for the individual:

  • A legal right to access information held by public bodies;
  • A legal right to have official information relating to him/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
  • A legal right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting oneself.

In relation to recruitment and selection the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003 therefore provides candidates with a right to request reasons for decisions made in relation to their application.

This has led to a greater openness and transparency in selection systems and has encouraged better practice in the recording of information. It has also led to a change in culture surrounding selection decisions and has posed a challenge with keeping some information relating to the selection process protected.

It is probably best to provide candidates with all relevant information up front so that they are not required to access information under the act. Information provided should relate only to the candidate’s own performance. It should not identify any other candidates or undermine the selection process in any way. Information typically released to candidates includes notes and scores from interview. Scores on tests are always provided when results are released. However test booklets, even if requested under FOI, are never given out.

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