Finance Minister Michael Noonan has confirmed that his department has deployed eight additional Freedom of Information (FOI) decision-makers to deal with the spiralling number of requests made to his department.
The Government removed the €15 administration fee attached to FOI requests for non-personal information late last year and according to Mr Noonan, this has contributed to FOI requests at his department increasing by 256% for the first nine months of this year.
At the end of September 2014, 92 FOI requests had been received compared to 328 at the end of the same period this year.
Mr Noonan revealed eight department staff had been temporarily deployed to deal with the FOI backlog in response to a written Dáil question by Catherine Murphy TD.
Ms Murphy’s FOI submissions to the Department of Finance and subsequent replies contributed to the Government establishing a Commission of Investigation in June into certain IBRC transactions.
Some 82% of requests were dealt with within the requisite timeframe with another 58 still outstanding.
“I will be satisfied when the response time reaches 100% and in light of this situation, I have asked my secretary general to prioritise clearance of the backlog,” said Mr Noonan.
He added that the department’s FOI unit has four full-time staff whose role is to receive, allocate, monitor and administer the FOI requests but that unit does not, generally, act as the decision- maker on requests.
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