Below is the decision of the appeals officer in the department of social protection in response to my arguments seeking the release of full records from the JobBrudge programme. Short version, they said no.
Back in June, I blogged the issues I intended to raise in my FOI appeal, for those of you who need a refresher.
I have six months to appeal the decision. I’ve already outlined some of the grounds on which I believe the refusal to supply me with all JobBridge records is mistaken here, but before I submit an appeal, I’m appealing to the wisdom of crowds. What points should I include in the appeal.
20 August 2012
Dear Mr Cunningham
I refer to the appeal which you made earlier under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 to 2003 on 2 August for review of the earlier decision of this Department dated 30 May and 29 June 2012 respectively.
The Department received your appeal and fee of €75 on 6 August 2012.
I am a more senior member of staff of this Department than the person making the first decision. I decided today, on August 20, to affirm the original decision on your request. This decision on review is an entirely new and separate decision on your request, and is explained as such below.
The purpose of this letter is to explain my decision as in the paragraphs below:
I note that you were supplied with a range of documents and electronic data on 30 May and 29 June respectively.
The two specific matters that you now raise as the basis for the appeal are as follows:
1. Non release of Company ID’s – This information cannot be released as it is a unique identifier for companies when interacting with our National Contact Centre (NCC). The NCC are responsible for processing all Jobbridge and other vacancies. As such, if we were to release this information into the public domain, it would allow an individual to contact the NCC and purport to act on behalf of a company by supplying the Company ID number. An individual could then contact the NCC and act on behalf of the company. I have discussd this matter in detail with our colleagues in the NCC and as you may appreciate it would be both irresponsible and reckless of the Department of Social Protection to release Company ID data into the public domain. In accordance with Section 27 of the FOI Acts, the Company ID is clearly of a commercially sensitive nature and its release could damage the reputation of the company. As such, the only reasonable course of action is to reafirm the original decision in respect of the above.
I note that a significant level of vacancy and company data has previously been supplied to you as per the email correspondence sent to you on 29 June.
2. Non-release of 20% of records relating to companies who wished their details to remain anonymous – I note that over 8,300 rows of Company data were released to you in the email attachment that was sent to you on 29 June. It is my view that we cannot release data in respect of companies who conscientiously declared an option that their company details would not be displayed on the Jobbridge vacancy/website. It is my considered view that companies have specifically requested that their details would remain anonymous and would not be displayed in the public domain. In accordance with Section 27 of the FOI Acts, it is my view that this information is commercially sensitive and that these companies made a deliberate decision that their company information would not be released into the public domain. In my view, the release of this information would undermine the expressed wishes of these companies and their specific request that their company details would not be released by JobBridge. It is my considered view that there is ‘a reasonable expectation of confidence’ on behalf of these companies that their information would remain confidential.
Finally, in the penultimate paragraph of your appeal you assert that you did not receive a response to your request for ‘a normalised table of the data in the JobBridge database’. I have reviewed these records further and note that the FOI Officer sent you an email responding to this matter on 24 July. See below for further information.
I refer to your most recent request regarding a normalised table of the data in the JobBridge database, linking companies to vacancies with the COMPANY_ID identifier removed.
I have discussed this further with the IT Department and the FOI unit. There is no such record available in the JobBridge database. The database records are kept in the manner of the data dumps as previously supplied.
Separately, there are existing reports that have been generated in terms of breakdown of placements by company size and company sector but there are no existing reports/records in the manner that you have requested.
Please advise if you wish to receive the existing reports/records as outlined in the paragraph above.
Over to you, internet.