Every public authority is required by section19 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) to adopt and maintain a publication scheme. Publication schemes must be approved by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). In order to assist public authorities with producing an approved scheme and to ensure a consistent approach to the inclusion of information, the ICO has approved a model publication scheme that is suitable for every public authority to adopt with effect from 1 January 2009.

All organisations are required to adopt the model publication scheme and to put in place arrangements to publish information in line with the scheme. Approval for all existing publication schemes expires on 31 December 2008.

In essence, the new scheme contains seven classes of information: 

  • who we are and what we do; 
  • what we spend and how we spend it; 
  • what our priorities are and how we are doing; 
  • how we make decisions; 
  • our policies and procedures; 
  • lists and registers; and 
  • the services we offer.

It is now possible to view the approved scheme on the ICO website at www.ico.gov.uk. The ICO also intends to develop sector specific guidance manuals. The manual will contain definition documents that will provide examples of information that should be provided if they are held by that authority as well as good practice, generic and sector specific guidance.