Healthy Tensions? Assessing FOI uptake in the voluntary sector in Scotland



Spence K & Dinan W (2011) Healthy Tensions? Assessing FOI uptake in the voluntary sector in Scotland. Information Polity, 16 (2), pp. 97-109.

The devolved political settlement in Scotland has been profoundly shaped by the principles of openness, accountability and transparency and by the important role played by Scottish civic society in campaigning for the new Scottish Parliament. The coming into force of the Freedom of Information Scotland Act (FOISA) in January 2005 was intended to help secure the openness of the new Scottish polity. This paper analyses the drivers of information management policies and practices in Scottish public life and assesses some of the complex interrelationships between civil society and the state that have influenced how organizations in the Scottish voluntary have – and have not – availed of the provisions of FOISA. Based on original and extensive survey, interview, documentary and archival research this paper assesses some of the ways in which political culture post-devolution has impacted on how the `third sector' has engaged with FOI. The research finds that the particularity of devolved governance and funding relationships between public and voluntary sectors plays a key role in determining FOI uptake and reflects on what this means for wider public accountability and transparency.

Freedom of Information (FOI); Freedom of Information Scotland Act (FOISA); civil society; devolution; accountability

Information Polity: Volume 16, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2011
PublisherIOS Press

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Dr William Dinan

Dr William Dinan

Senior Lecturer, Communications, Media and Culture