Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 requires FOI bodies to prepare and publish a scheme concerning the publication of information by the body in conformity with a model publication scheme or guidelines made by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, T.D. under Section 8. This allows for the publication or giving of records outside of FOI provided that such publication or giving of access is not prohibited by law.
The Minister is of the view that FOI bodies should publish as much information as possible in an open and accessible manner on a routine basis outside of FOI, having regard to the principles of openness, transparency and accountability as set out in Sections 8(5) and 11(3) of the Act. The Minister has made the model scheme which is fully in compliance with Section 8 of the FOI Act for adoption by all FOI bodies.
The scheme commits FOI bodies to make information available as part of their normal business activities in accordance with the scheme. Publication of documents which are not exempt under the Scheme is in line with the intention of the Directive on the Re-use of Public Sector Information, and the obligation under that Directive to publish information and ensure that it is accessible and re-usable for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
The Act requires that in preparing, reviewing or revising a publication scheme, an FOI body shall have regard to the public interest in:
- allowing public access to information held by the FOI body;
- the publication of reasons for decisions made by the FOI body; and
- publishing information of relevance or interest to the general public in relation to its activities and functions generally.