The Scottish Government has announced the start of a formal consultation into the possible extension of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). The consultation started on 28 July 2010, more than six months after the Scottish Government confirmed that it would hold a consultation, and will be open until 2 November 2010.

The consultation is a response to calls for an extension to the ambit of the legislation to take account of the different ways in which many public services are now provided. The rationale is that a number of organisations that are not currently classed as public bodies under FOISA are now carrying out more and more important duties of a public nature. The consultation seeks views on whether FOISA should be extended to organisations such as leisure and recreational trusts, PPP/PFI contractors for hospitals, schools and trunk roads, the Glasgow Housing Association, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and contractors running privately managed prisons.

This extension of FOISA could potentially cover a large range of organisations such as contractors who build and maintain hospitals, schools and trunk roads. These types of businesses should give careful consideration to the potential consequences of having FOISA apply to them. Local authority trusts and other bodies set up for the provision of certain facilities namely leisure, sport and cultural services receiving in excess of £100,000 per annum of public money will be also targeted. Designation of these organisations as a public authority for the purposes of FOISA would bring not only direct obligations and responsibilities under FOISA, but also disclosure of information requirements under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

Those wishing to contribute to the consultation can do so on the Scottish Government website here.