Information for suppliers
The Freedom of Information Act applies to all information held by public bodies. It also applies to specifically designated private companies that perform public functions and in a limited capacity to private companies that contract to public bodies. The legislation gives anyone anywhere in the world the legal right to request and receive a copy of recorded information held by, or on behalf of, a public authority. The emphasis is always on disclosure of the information rather than withholding it.
All of the information that Gloucestershire Council holds about your company is covered by FOI, as is any information that you hold on our behalf.
If a contractor is employed to undertake a service on our behalf the information they produce in relation to that service is subject to Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. The responsibility for compliance with the legislation remains with the public authority.
If Gloucestershire Council (GCC) receives a request for information that is held by a contractor, the contractor must assist GCC and provide them with the information within 10 days of GCC requesting it from them.
A contractor or other agency employed to undertake services on our behalf has no obligation to respond to a FOI request received by them if FOI does not apply to their organisation. If the contractor receives a request for the information they manage on our behalf they must either inform the applicant to direct their request to GCC or transfer the request to us. Contractors should not in any case disclose information held on our behalf without our explicit agreement.
If GCC receives a request for information held about any of its contractors all such information will be considered for release under the FOI Act. That does not mean it will automatically be released if it is requested as one of the exemptions may apply. Wherever possible we will seek the contractor's views before making a decision on disclosure of information that might affect their rights or interests. Although the contractor's representations will be taken into account the law makes GCC alone responsible for making the final decision regarding disclosure.
Frequently asked questions
If I give GCC information on my products or services, will this be subject to the Freedom of Information Act?
Yes, but that does not mean it will automatically be released if it is requested, as an exemption of the FOI Act may apply. We will usually seek your views before making a decision on disclosure of information that might affect your rights or interests.
My company holds information on behalf of GCC. How am I affected?
If GCC gets a request for information that includes information you hold on our behalf, we will ask you to provide it quickly so that we can comply with FOI. This is to give us time to consider the information for exemptions and to prepare the information for release.
What if a request for information comes direct to my company?
You have no obligations to respond to such a request if FOI does not apply to your organisation. If you receive a request that relates to information you hold on behalf of GCC you should not in any case disclose it without our explicit agreement.
To be helpful to the requester, if the information requested relates to GCC, you should advise that the request should be submitted to GCC or transfer the request direct to us.
Are there any exemptions that allow GCC to refuse to supply information?
FOI provides for two types of exemption; absolute and qualified. Where information is covered by an absolute exemption, GCC may refuse to release the information and, in some cases, can refuse to confirm or deny whether we hold the information.
Where qualified exemptions apply, GCC has to undertake a public interest test to decide whether it is in the public interest to disclose or withhold it. The public interest in withholding the information must outweigh the public interest in releasing it.
The Information Commissioner has produced some guidance on the exemptionsthat can be applied under Freedom of Information legislation.
Could information I supply to GCC be protected by having a confidentiality clause in contracts or by providing the information in confidence?
Confidentiality clauses are discouraged under the FOI unless there are genuine commercial and/or legal reasons why the information should be treated as confidential.
Information provided in confidence is only exempt if its disclosure would give rise to an actionable breach of confidence. This is a narrow legal exemption, which only applies in limited circumstances and you should not assume that this exemption will apply just because you think information is confidential.
If you consider that information that you provide to GCC is confidential, you should notify us of this, identify the information and provide reasons why you consider the information to be confidential under the FOI.
What will GCC do if it receives a request for information that might affect my company?
When considering requests, GCC will, wherever possible, consult you about information that may affect your rights or interests unless we are already certain that we must or must not disclose it. This consultation will help us to decide if an exemption applies and what the considerations are in applying a public interest test about information disclosure.
The law makes GCC alone responsible for making the final decision regarding disclosure.
What happens to tender information after contract is awarded?
Information that was commercially sensitive during the tendering process may no longer be sensitive once contracts have been signed, therefore GCC will consult with you to determine its disclosure. Again, GCC is responsible for the final decision in relation to disclosure. Information relating to current tenders must also be considered for release.