Home  /  Decisions  /  Decisions List
 

Gavin Sheridan and An Garda Síochána (FOI Act 2014)

Case Number: 160258

Whether AGS was justified in refusing access to five specific audit reports and in granting only partial access to six others

Conducted in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act by Stephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review

Background

On 5 February 2016, the applicant sought access to the following records from AGS:

1) The following 2014 audit reports:

Audit of NBCI
Expenditure review 2013 Vehicle Maintenance Contract
Expenditure review 2014 GoSafe Camera Contract
Audit Mayo Division
Review Audit Mayo

2) The following 2013 audit reports:

Audit of procurement
Audit of the Serious Crime Review Team following Allegations of Financial Irregularities
Audit of the Offices of the Regional Assistant Commissioners

3) The following 2012 audit reports:

Audit of Compensation Claims
Audit of Controls in the Fixed Charge Penalty Office
Audit of Tranman System
Review of CCTV systems

As AGS did not make a decision within the required time frame, the applicant sought an internal review of the deemed refusal of his request on 28 April 2016. On 23, 24 and 26 May 2016, AGS issued ten separate internal review decisions, granting full access to one record, partial access to six records, and refusing access to four records (no decision issued in respect of the 2013 audit report concerning procurement). On 13 June 2016, the applicant sought a review by this Office of the decision of AGS.

I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal binding decision. In conducting this review, I have had regard to the contents of the records and to the submissions of the parties.

Scope of the Review

This review is concerned with whether AGS was justified in deciding to redact certain reports and to refuse access to the remaining reports, on the ground that the withheld information falls outside the scope of the FOI Act and/or is exempt from release.

Preliminary Matters

It should be noted that while I am required by section 22(10) of the FOI Act to give reasons for decisions, this is subject to the requirement of section 25(3) that I take all reasonable precautions during the course of a review to prevent disclosure of information contained in an exempt record. This means that the description which I can give of the records at issue and of the reasons for my decision is limited.

Additionally, section 18(1) of the Act provides that if it is practicable to do so, access to an otherwise exempt record shall be granted by preparing a copy, in such form as the body concerned considers appropriate, of the record with the exempt information removed. Section 18(1) does not apply, however, if the copy provided for thereby would be misleading (section 18(2) refers). I take the view that neither the definition of a record under section 2 of the Act nor the provisions of section 18 envisage or require the extracting of particular sentences or occasional paragraphs from records for the purpose of granting access to those particular sentences or paragraphs. Generally speaking, therefore, I am not in favour of the cutting or "dissecting" of records to such an extent. Being "practicable" necessarily means taking a reasonable and proportionate approach in determining whether to grant access to parts of records.

Finally, it is important to note that section 22(12)(b) of the FOI Act provides that a decision to refuse to grant a request under section 12 shall be presumed not to have been justified unless the head of the relevant FOI body shows to the Commissioner's satisfaction that its decision was justified. This means that the onus is on AGS to satisfy this Office that its decision to refuse access to the records sought, either in whole or in part, was justified.

Findings

In its submissions to this Office, AGS used the following descriptions and numbering to refer to the records at issue:

1. Audit Report, National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (December 2014)
2. Expenditure Review 2013 Vehicle Maintenance Contract
3. Quality Assurance Compliance with DPER Circular 13/13 Review of the Effectiveness of the GoSafe Contract
4. Audit Mayo Division (July 2014)
5. Review Audit Mayo Division (August 2015)
6. Audit Report Procurement (January 2013)
7. Examination of Systems of Controls, Processes and Procedures of the Serious Crime Review Team, NBCI by the Garda Professional Standards Unit and Garda Internal Audit Section
8. Audit Report Offices of the Regional Assistant Commissioners (January 2013)
9. Fixed Charge Penalty Office (May 2012)
10. Audit of the Tranman System for Managing the Garda Fleet (November 2012)
11. Audit Report Compensation Claims (July 2013)
12. Review Audit Report CCTV (February 2013)

Using this numbering, access to record 3 was granted in full, partial access was granted to records 2, 4, 5, 9, 11 and 12, and access was refused to records 1, 6, 7, 8 and 10.

Before considering each record, it is important to bear in mind the limited extent to which AGS is subject to the FOI Act. The vast majority of bodes are deemed to be public bodies for the purposes of the Act by virtue of their inclusion in the categories set out in section 6 of the Act. Section 6(2) states that an entity specified in Part 1 of Schedule 1 shall, subject to the provisions of that Part, be a public body for the purposes of the Act.

Part 1(n) of Schedule 1 of the Act provides that section 6 does not include a reference to AGS "other than insofar as it relates to administrative records relating to human resources, or finance or procurement matters". In Case 160054, I stated my view that the purpose of Part 1(n) is to restrict the right of access to those functions or processes of AGS that relate to the administration or management of the organisation, and only in relation to matters concerning human resources, or finance or procurement matters. Records relating to the core functions of AGS, such as the investigation of criminal activity, are excluded from the ambit of the Act.

With this in mind, I wish to address an argument made by AGS that granting partial access to some of the records at issue would be misleading and that access should therefore be refused, as provided for in section 18. The very fact that AGS is subject to the Act to such a limited extent means that situations will invariably arise where only parts of certain records fall to be considered for release. While the views of this Office on what is required by section 18 remain as I have outlined above, I am necessarily obliged to consider the question of whether certain parts of the records that fall for potential release should be released. In considering such matters, I have endeavoured to ensure that when deciding that certain parts of records should be released, the records falling to be released are not misleading.

 

Record 1
This is a report of an audit of the financial systems and associated processes of the National Bureau of Crime Investigation (NBCI). AGS refused access to this record on the basis that it is not an administrative record and is therefore excluded from the scope of the FOI Act. Additionally, it argued that the report is exempt from release under sections 35(1)(a) and 37(1), and alternatively that release of parts of the report would be misleading and therefore should be refused under section 18.

In submissions to this Office, AGS argued as follows:

"The report itself is not an administrative record for the purposes of finance, human resources or procurement and is an internal investigative report which flowed directly from the allegations into criminality by members attached to the SCRT (investigation report currently with the DPP for decision). This audit report is the result of a deliberate process to identify if the acts of criminality alleged against members of the SCRT...had spread to other sections within the NBCI Region."

The Executive Summary of the report states that it is a "thorough audit of NBCI financial systems and associated processes." I am satisfied that a substantial number of the matters considered comprise core functions of AGS that are excluded from the scope of FOI, including drugs storage and recording and property and evidence management. However, I do not accept AGS's argument that, because the audit was conducted on foot of allegations of criminality against members of the Serious Crime Review Team (a constituent part of the NBCI), the report cannot be considered an administrative record.

In my view, the circumstances surrounding the decision to carry out the audit do not automatically alter the nature of the audit report itself. I am satisfied that a number of the matters considered comprise administrative matters relating to human resources, or finance or procurement and that certain parts of the report are, therefore, subject to the provisions of the Act. Those matters include management of attendance, overtime and allowances, management of travel and subsistence, procurement of goods and services, sickness absence records, and financial management. I am also satisfied that those parts of the report which essentially cover all aspects of the audit, such as audit methodology and scope for example, are not confined to administrative matters relating to human resources, or finance or procurement and are therefore excluded.

Having considered the record, I find that the following parts are subject to the provisions of the FOI Act:

  • Page 4: Audit Opinion 2
  • Page 5: Audit Opinions 4 to 6
  • Page 7: All text under section headed "3. Administrative Resources"
  • Pages 16/17/18: All text under section headed "3. Administrative Resources"
  • Pages 20/21/22: All text under section headed "6. Sickness Absence and Annual Leave"
  • Page 22: All text under section headed "7. Budgetary Oversight and Financial Management"
  • Pages 23/24/25/26: All text under section headed "8. Overtime, Allowances and Claims for Travel & Subsistence Expenses"
  • Pages 26/27/28: All text on p. 26 under section headed "9. Risk Management and Local management inspections/Audits"; First paragraph only on p. 27: First two sentences under 'Audit Findings' on p. 28

The report also includes a 7 page appendix entitled "Record of Control Failures", which comprises a table of specific issues discovered during the audit process. I am satisfied that much of the appendix concerns operational matters (e.g. drugs, property) and is therefore outside of scope. However, certain parts of the appendix detail findings on administrative matters relating to human resources or finance. I find that row 1 and rows 12 to 39 are subject to the provisions of the FOI Act.

I must now consider whether any of the exemptions claimed are applicable to those parts of the record that I have found to be subject to the provisions of the Act.

Section 35(1)(a)
Section 35(1)(a) provides for the mandatory refusal of a request if

  • the record sought contains information given to an FOI body in confidence, and
  • on the understanding that the information would be treated by it as confidential, and
  • in the opinion of the head, its disclosure would be likely to prejudice the giving to the body of further similar information from the same person or other persons, and
  • it is of importance to the body that such further similar information as aforesaid should continue to be given to the body.

 

Each of the four criteria must be satisfied for this exemption to apply. However, section 35(2) provides that the exemptions at section 35(1) do not apply to a record prepared by a member of staff of an FOI body in the course of the performance of his or her functions unless disclosure of the information concerned would constitute a breach of a duty of confidence that is provided for by an agreement or statute or otherwise by law and is owed to a person other than the FOI body or its staff.

AGS argued that its Internal Audit Section provided the report to senior Garda management in confidence. As the report was prepared by staff of AGS and AGS has not argued that the release of the report would constitute a breach of a duty of confidence owed to a person other than its staff, I find that section 35(1)(a) does not apply.

Section 37
Section 37(1) of the FOI Act provides for the mandatory refusal of a request where access to the record sought would involve the disclosure of personal information relating to a person other than the requester. For the purposes of the Act, personal information is information about an identifiable individual that (a) would, in the ordinary course of events, be known only to the individual or his/her family or friends, or (b) is held by an FOI body on the understanding that it would be treated by it as confidential. Section 2 of the Act details fourteen specific categories of information which is personal information without prejudice to the generality of (a) and (b) above. Section 2 of the Act also excludes certain information from the definition of personal information. In particular, paragraph (I) provides that personal information does not include the following information relating to an employee of an FOI body:

"... the name of the individual or information relating to the office or position or its functions or the terms upon and subject to which the individual holds or held that office or occupies or occupied that position or anything written or recorded in any form by the individual in the course of and for the purpose of the performance of the functions aforesaid"

Having regard to the definition of personal information, I am satisfied that the disclosure of the member number on page 24 of the audit report, as well as all member reg. numbers and the rank of the member where it is included with the reg. number, and expense claim numbers and amounts, in the appendix, would involve the disclosure of personal information relating to third parties and that section 37(1) applies.

Section 37(2) of the FOI Act sets out certain circumstances in which 37(1) does not apply. However, I am satisfied that none of those circumstances arise in this case. Section 37(5) provides that a request that would fall to be refused under section 37(1) may still be granted where, on balance, the public interest that the request should be granted outweighs the right to privacy of the individual to whom the information relates, or the grant of the information would be to the benefit of the person to whom the information relates. I am satisfied that the release of the information in question would not be to the benefit of the individuals to whom the information relates and that the public interest in the release of the information would not, on balance, outweigh the privacy rights of those individuals.

I am also satisfied that the disclosure of the remainder of the information contained in the relevant parts of the record, with the information identified above deleted, would not involve the disclosure of personal information relating to identifiable individuals, and that it is therefore not exempt under section 37(1).

Record 2
This record is a review of the service repair and maintenance contract with Ford Ireland (Ford) in respect of Garda vehicles. It was released to the applicant in a redacted format. AGS redacted information on pages 4 to 7 on the grounds that it was commercially sensitive, and refused access to pages 10 to 12 of the record on the grounds that it fell outside of the scope of the FOI Act.

In my opinion, the entire record is an administrative record that relates to procurement matters, i.e. the contract with Ford. Therefore, I find that it is fully within scope. I must therefore now consider whether AGS was justified in refusing access to parts of the record on the basis that it contained commercially sensitive information.

Section 36(1)(b)
This is a mandatory exemption that protects commercially sensitive information. Section 36(1)(b) states that

"Subject to subsection (2), a head shall refuse to grant an FOI request if the record concerned contains...
(b) financial, commercial, scientific or technical or other information whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to result in a material financial loss or gain to the person to whom the information relates, or could prejudice the competitive position of that person in the conduct of his or her profession or business or otherwise in his or her occupation..."

Subsection (2) contains a number of exceptions to the exemption. Subsection (3) contains a public interest balancing test.

In the course of this review, Simon Noone, Investigator, notified Ford of the review as an affected party and invited it to make a submission on the release of the relevant parts of the record. This Office has not received a reply from Ford. Nevertheless, as this is a mandatory exemption that has been invoked by AGS, I must proceed to consider its application to the record.

The redacted information on pages 4 and 5 consists of the Garda Internal Audit Section's assessment of Ford's performance across a number of specific aspects of the service level agreement with AGS. The information on page 6 refers to some responses to a survey issued to Garda districts regarding the performance of the contract. The information redacted from page 6 relates to satisfaction levels recorded, in a survey carried out in a number of districts, with the service being provided by Ford. Pages 10 to 12 contains more detail on the survey and the results recorded. One line on page 7 regarding payments was redacted.

While I consider that the information on pages 10 to 12 is within scope, as AGS has sought to refuse this information and as the prohibition on the release of commercially sensitive information is mandatory, I believe it is appropriate to consider whether section 36(1)(b) should be applied to refuse access.

While the standard of proof necessary to meet the second part of the test in section 36(1)(b) (could prejudice the competitive position etc.) is relatively low, it seems to me that the majority of the information at issue is of such a high level and general nature that its release could not reasonably be expected to result in a material financial loss or gain to Ford, nor could it prejudice Ford's commercial position in the conduct of its business. I accept that, however, section 36(1)(b) applies to the information redacted from page 6 and the specific comments made by the districts recorded on page 11 which relate to identifiable local Ford dealers.

Subsection (3) provides that "Subject to section 38, subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a case in which, in the opinion of the head concerned, the public interest would, on balance, be better served by granting than by refusing to grant the FOI request." I note that Ford did not respond to this Office's invitation to make a submission. Nevertheless, I do not consider it appropriate to conclude, therefore, that Ford is consenting to the release of the redacted information.

This Office takes the view that the FOI Act was designed to increase openness and transparency in the way in which FOI bodies conduct their operations and, in general terms, it was not designed as a means by which the operations of private enterprises were to be opened up to scrutiny. Accordingly, I am satisfied that the public interest would not, on balance, be better served by granting access to the specific comments made by the districts recorded on page 11 which relate to identifiable local Ford dealers. However, I am also satisfied that the information redacted from page 6 is of a more general nature relating to the service provided to AGS and that the public interest would be better served by its release.

Record 4
This is an audit report regarding the management and control systems of the Mayo division. A limited amount of information was provided to the applicant, with the majority of the record redacted. AGS claimed that the information refused was outside the scope of the Act, and also that sections 30(1)(a), (b) and (c), 32(1)(a)(i),(ii),(iii) and (ix), 35(1)(a) and 37(1) apply to the redacted parts.

I do not accept that all of the redacted information is out of scope. In line with the approach I have outlined in respect of record 1 above, I consider that the following parts of the report comprise administrative matters relating to human resources, or finance or procurement and therefore are subject to the provisions of the Act:

  • Page 2: Audit Opinions 3 and 5
  • Page 3: All text under heading "2. Procurement"
  • Page 4: First paragraph and two bullet points under "Divisional Resources"
  • Pages 10/11: All text under section headed "2. Procurement"
  • Pages 14/15/16: All text under section headed "5. Financial Management"
  • Pages 16/17: All text under section headed "6. Management of Overtime & Allowances"
  • Pages 17/18: All text under section headed "7. Management of Travel & Subsistence"
  • Pages 20/21/22: All text under section headed "10. Vehicle Fuel"
  • Pages 23/24: All text under section headed "13. Sick Absence Records"

 

Additionally, I find that all rows in the appendix entitled "Record of Control Failures" relating to procurement, prompt payments, Imprest, lodgement of receipts, management of overtime and allowances, management of travel and subsistence, sickness absence, and Topaz invoices are subject to the provisions of the FOI Act.

Section 30
This is a discretionary exemption that applies where the release of a record could reasonably be expected to prejudice the functions and negotiations of FOI bodies. AGS argued that the release of the record would prejudice the auditing process and techniques employed by the Garda Internal Audit Section and would be "detrimental" to current and future examinations of a similar nature. I do not accept this argument. In my opinion, the relevant sections of the record contain a high-level assessment of certain aspects of the performance of AGS in the relevant region. In my view, they contain no information about specific processes or techniques that, if released, could reasonably be expected to prejudice the effectiveness of future audits. Therefore, I find that AGS has not shown, to the satisfaction of this Office, that its decision to refuse access to the relevant parts of the report under section 30 was justified.

Section 32(1)(a)(i)(ii)(iii)&(ix)
This is a discretionary exemption that allows an FOI body to refuse access to a record where its release could reasonably be expected to prejudice or impair law enforcement and public safety. In reference to the "Procurement" section of the report, AGS stated that "It is reasonable to expect that the identification of the private individuals who provide a service such as towing a vehicle could be subjected to intimidation or other harmful methods in an attempt to negatively impact a criminal investigation." With respect I do not agree. I do not consider it reasonable to expect that the release of the name of a company which AGS has engaged to provide towing services could, of itself, prejudice or impair law enforcement and public safety. Therefore I find that section 32(1)(a) does not apply.

Section 35(1)(a)
For similar reasons as set out regarding record 1 above, I find that this exemption is not applicable.

Section 37(1)
Having regard to the definition of personal information set out at record 1 above, I find that the disclosure of all member reg. numbers and the rank of the member where it is included with the reg. number, and expense claim numbers and amounts, in the appendix would involve the disclosure of personal information relating to third parties and that section 37(1) applies. For similar reasons as set out above, I am satisfied that the public interest does not favour the release of this information.

Record 5
This record is a review of the original audit reported in record 4. AGS stated in its submission to this Office that it stands to reason that the same exemptions were applied to this record as to record 4. Accordingly, similar considerations as with the previous record also apply. AGS release a redacted version of the report to the applicant, and refused access to certain information on the basis that it was outside of scope, and/or that sections 30, 32, 35 and 37 apply.

In my opinion, the following parts of the record concern administrative matters relating to human resources, finance and/or procurement and are therefore within scope:

  • Page 2: Review Audit Opinion 3
  • Page 3: Review Audit Opinion 5
  • Pages 5/6: All text under section headed "3. Procurement"
  • Page 8: All text under section headed "5. Financial Management"
  • Pages 9/10: All text under section headed "6. Management of Overtime and Allowances"
  • Page 10: All text under section headed "7. Management of Travel & Subsistence"
  • Pages 11/12: All text under section headed "9. Vehicle Fuel"

 

Furthermore, there is an appendix to the report entitled "Questionnaire Responses". I find that all of the text under the following headings is within scope: Procurement, Financial Management, Management of Overtime & Allowances, Management of Travel & Subsistence, Vehicle Fuel, and Sickness Absence Records.

For similar reasons as set out above in respect of record 4, I find that sections 30(1)(a), (b) & (c) and 35(1)(a) are not applicable to the record.

Section 32(1)(a)(i)(ii)(iii)&(ix)
In its submissions in respect of this record, AGS invoked this exemption in respect of towed vehicles and storage facilities. However, I have found that the information relating to these aspects of the record is outside of scope. I am satisfied that the release of the relevant sections which concern human resources, finance and/or procurement matters could not reasonably be expected to prejudice or impair law enforcement and public safety, and therefore I find that section 32(1)(a) does not apply.

Section 37(1)
While AGS has sought to rely on this exemption, it has failed to identify any particular information that it contends to be personal information. In my opinion, none of the sections of the record that I have found to be within scope contain personal information. Therefore, I find that section 37(1) does not apply to the record.

Record 6
This is a report of an audit of the management and control systems in place to manage procurement. AGS failed to make an initial decision or an internal review decision on the question of access to this report. It appears that it did not do so as it had intended to publish the report on its website. This is not an appropriate method of dealing with the request for access. I note that section 16 of the Act provides for the deferral of access to certain records in specific limited circumstances. AGS has not argued that any such circumstances arose. Since then, however, the report has been published, albeit in a redacted format.

In its submissions to this Office, AGS stated that it was willing to release additional parts of the record. Therefore, only the following redactions remain to be considered in this review, namely four words on page 8, four words on page 19, ten words on page 20, six words on page 21, two words on page 23, and three words on page 31.

AGS argued that the information on pages 8 and 19 is restricted from release under section 42(b)(v), which provides that the FOI Act does not apply to "a record held or created by the Garda Síochána that relates to... the Security and Intelligence Section". I am satisfied that the relevant redactions do not relate to the Security and Intelligence Section. Rather, they relate to the description on the AGS accounting system of certain goods/services purchased. I find, therefore, that section 42(b)(v) does not apply

AGS has stated that the information on pages 20, 21, 23 and 31 refers to operational matters and is outside the scope of the Act. Again, I disagree. The redactions in question concern certain goods/services for which tender exercises were undertaken or for which expenditure was incurred, and locations where certain cleaning contracts were in place. I am satisfied that the redactions concern administrative matters relating to finance or procurement and that they fall to be considered for release. As no other exemptions were cited by AGS, I find that record 6 should be released in its entirety.

Record 7
This is a report of an examination of the systems of control within the Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) in the NBCI Division. Access to this record was refused by AGS. This record was recently considered by this Office in Case 160257 (Tighe and AGS) where I found that access to the record should be refused under section 32(1)(a), in circumstances where criminal proceedings against certain members of the SCRT are being contemplated. That decision is available on this Office's website at www.oic.ie. As my understanding is that the circumstances remain unchanged, I find that AGS was justified in refusing access to the record under section 32(1)(a).

Record 8
This is an audit report concerning the management and control systems applied in the Offices of the Regional Assistant Commissioners. AGS refused access to this record on the basis that it fell outside of scope of the FOI Act, and also that sections 30 and 35 applied. Additionally, AGS refused access to the appendix Record of Control Failures under sections 37 and 18.

In my opinion, the following parts of the record concern administrative matters relating to human resources, finance and/or procurement and are therefore within scope:

Page 2: Opinions 1 to 3
Page 7: The first three paragraphs under section headed "1. Availability and allocation of resources"
Pages 8/9: Second full paragraph on page 3 commencing "Our audit ..." and all text under the section headed "Priority 2 Recommendations
Page 10: All text under section headed "(b) Official Vehicle Expenses"
Page 11: Two paragraphs under the section headed "(b) Official Vehicles Expenses" and all text under the related "Management Response" apart from the second bullet point
Pages 11/12/13: All text under heading "3. Budgetary Management and Control of Expenditure", including the related "Priority 3 Recommendations" and "Management Response"

Additionally, the record includes an Appendix entitled "Record of Control Failures", which sets out specific issues discovered during the audit process relating to travel and subsistence, overtime and allowances and out of pocket expenses. I find that the entirety of this appendix is within scope.

The submissions of AGS in respect of the applicability of section 30 are similar to those in respect of record 4 above. For the same reasons as set out already, I do not accept that section 30 applies to this record. Similarly, I find that section 35(2) is applicable in this instance which means that section 35(1)(a) cannot be used to exempt the record from release.

I will now consider the applicability of section 37 to the appendix. I find that the disclosure of all member reg. numbers and the rank of the member where it is included with the reg. number, and expense claim numbers and amounts, in the appendix would involve the disclosure of personal information relating to third parties and that section 37(1) applies. For similar reasons as set out at record 1 above, I am satisfied that the public interest does not favour the release of this information, and I find that it should be redacted from the appendix.

Record 9
This record is a report of an audit of the management and control systems of the Fixed Charge Processing Office. The section of the report dealing with procurement was released to the applicant. Access to the rest of the record was refused on the basis that it was outside of scope. Having considered the record, I find that Audit Opinion 4 on page 1 of the report is within scope and should be released.

While there is a financial aspect to the remainder of the report, I am satisfied that the report is not an administrative record relating to finance. Rather, the report relates to a core function of AGS, which is to process fixed charge penalties. Accordingly, I find that AGS was justified in refusing access to the remainder of record 9 on the ground that it is excluded from the scope of the Act by virtue of Part 1(n) of Schedule 1.

Record 10
This is an audit report regarding the Tranman computerised fleet management system. AGS refused access to this record on the basis that it fell outside of the scope of the FOI Act. Having considered the record, I agree with AGS that it is not an administrative record relating to human resources, or finance or procurement matters, and therefore I find that AGS was justified in refusing access on the ground that it is excluded from the scope of the Act by virtue of Part 1(n) of Schedule 1.

Record 11
This is a report of an audit of the efficiency of AGS's processes in respect of certain compensation claims. The majority of this record was released to the applicant. Certain file reference numbers were refused on the basis that they constituted personal information. Appendix 3, entitled "Road Traffic Accident Analysis", was redacted on the grounds that it was outside of scope.

Section 37(1)
AGS submitted that "[The] file reference numbers refer to individual member's files which contain information in respect of an individual's compensation claim." I agree with AGS that these numbers constitute personal information as defined by section 2, and therefore I find that section 37(1) is applicable. I find that none of the other provisions of the section serve to disapply the exemption in respect of those redactions in this case and that they are exempt from release under section 37(1).

Appendix 3
As the title to the appendix suggests, this is an analysis of road traffic accidents. I consider that this is not an administrative record relating to human resources, or finance or procurement matters, and therefore I find that AGS was justified in refusing access on the ground that it is excluded from the scope of the Act by virtue of Part 1(n) of Schedule 1.

Record 12
This is a report of an audit of the management and control systems applied to Garda CCTV systems in public places. A redacted version of the record was provided to the applicant. Access to the majority of the record was refused on the basis that it fell outside of scope of the FOI Act. In my opinion, the first and last bullet points on page 3 under "Review Audit Opinion" are within scope and should be released. Indeed, these refer to those sections of the report already provided to the applicant. I find that AGS was justified in refusing access to the remainder of the report on the ground that it is excluded from the scope of the Act by virtue of Part 1(n) of Schedule 1.

 

Decision

Having carried out a review under section 22(2) of the Act, I hereby vary the decision of AGS.

I affirm the decision of AGS to refuse access to records 7 and 10 and to the redacted parts of record 11. I vary the decision of AGS in respect of records 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 12, as follows:

Record 1
I direct AGS to release the following information:

  • Page 4: Audit Opinion 2
  • Page 5: Audit Opinions 4 to 6
  • Page 7: All text under section headed "3. Administrative Resources"
  • Pages 16/17/18: All text under section headed "3. Administrative Resources"
  • Pages 20/21/22: All text under section headed "6. Sickness Absence and Annual Leave"
  • Page 22: All text under section headed "7. Budgetary Oversight and Financial Management"
  • Pages 23/24/25/26: All text under section headed "8. Overtime, Allowances and Claims for Travel & Subsistence Expenses", with the exception of the member number on p. 24
  • Pages 26/27/28: All text on p. 26 under section headed "9. Risk Management and Local management inspections/Audits"; First paragraph only on p. 27: First two sentences under 'Audit Findings' on p. 28

 

I also direct AGS to release row 1 and rows 12 to 39 in the table in the Appendix to record 1, apart from details of all member reg. numbers and the rank of the member where it is included with the reg. number, and details of expense claim numbers and amounts.

Record 2
I direct AGS to release all of record 2, apart from the specific comments of the districts recorded on page 11.

Record 4
I direct AGS to release the following information:

  • Page 2: Audit Opinions 3 and 5
  • Page 3: All text under heading "2. Procurement"
  • Page 4: First paragraph and two bullet points under "Divisional Resources"
  • Pages 10/11: All text under heading "2. Procurement"
  • Pages 14/15/16: All text under heading "5. Financial Management"
  • Pages 16/17: All text under heading "6. Management of Overtime & Allowances"
  • Pages 17/18: All text under heading "7. Management of Travel & Subsistence"
  • Pages 20/21/22: All text under section headed "10. Vehicle Fuel"
  • Pages 23/24: All text under heading "13. Sick Absence Records"

 

I also direct AGS to release all information contained in all rows in the table in the Appendix to record 4 relating to procurement, prompt payments, Imprest, lodgement of receipts, management of overtime and allowances, management of travel and subsistence, sickness absence, and Topaz invoices, apart from details of all member reg. numbers and the rank of the member where it is included with the reg. number, and details of expense claim numbers and amounts.

Record 5
I direct AGS to release the following information:

  • Page 2: Review Audit Opinion 3
  • Page 3: Review Audit Opinion 5
  • Pages 5/6: All text under heading "3. Procurement"
  • Page 8: All text under heading "5. Financial Management"
  • Pages 9/10: All text under heading "6. Management of Overtime and Allowances"
  • Page 10: All text under heading "7. Management of Travel & Subsistence"
  • Pages 11/12: All text under section headed "9. Vehicle Fuel"

 

I also direct AGS to release all of the text under the following headings in the Appendix to record 5: Procurement, Financial Management, Management of Overtime & Allowances, Management of Travel & Subsistence, Vehicle Fuel, and Sickness Absence Records.

Record 6
I direct AGS to release record 6 in full.

Record 8
I direct AGS to release the following information:

  • Page 2: Opinions 1 to 3
  • Page 7: The first three paragraphs under section headed "1. Availability and allocation of resources"
  • Pages 8/9: Second full paragraph on page 3 commencing "Our audit ..." and all text under the section headed "Priority 2 Recommendations
  • Page 10: All text under section headed "(b) Official Vehicle Expenses"
  • Page 11: Two paragraphs under the section headed "(b) Official Vehicles Expenses" and all text under the related "Management Response" apart from the second bullet point
  • Pages 11/12/13: All text under heading "3. Budgetary Management and Control of Expenditure", including the related "Priority 3 Recommendations" and "Management Response"

 

I also direct AGS to release the appendix to record 8, apart from details of all member reg. numbers and the rank of the member where it is included with the reg. number, and details of expense claim numbers and amounts.

Record 9
I direct AGS to release Audit Opinion 4 on page 2.

Record 12
Finally, I direct AGS to release the first and last bullet points under "Review Audit Opinion on page 3 of record 12.

Right of Appeal

Section 24 of the FOI Act sets out detailed provisions for an appeal to the High Court by a party to a review, or any other person affected by the decision. In summary, such an appeal, normally on a point of law, must be initiated by the applicant not later than eight weeks after notice of the decision was given, and by any other party not later than four weeks after notice of the decision was given.

 

Stephen Rafferty
Senior Investigator