If you don't know what i'm talking about, its the act coming into force in the uk in early jan and will give everybody as much access to publicallly held info as possible (without divulging classified personal,defence or other info) basically:
http://www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2000/00036--a.htm#11. - (1) Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled-
(a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and
(b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.
some more details are:
1) reply must be within 20 days
2) requests can be written in a variety of languages(ie french german, welsh and a couple of others) or even braille (and foreign braille if i remember well) & replies must be in same language/format
3) You can make the request to anyone whose contact details you can find and who is vaguely related to the subject
4) I may very very well be wrong on this, but i think the queries can come from anyone in the whole world
ITs all very well and good until you consider the fact that greenpeace are already planning to bombard the Ministry of Defence & various other government agencies with tens of thousands of shitty requests purely to piss people off, most newspapers are also lined up to hammer gov agencies, though more from a snooping point of view rather than to annoy. And its all perfectly legit, the monkeys who wrote the bill only specified basically that you can't ask for the same bit of info lots of times, everything else no matter how irritating is fair game. There is the caveat that a fee can be charged, but there cannot be a flat fee, ie al cases must be judged individually and the initial guidance seems to indicate that only costs incurred in finding the info can be passed on and the fee no matter how small cannot be used as a method of discouragement.
All very nice if you're a minister and want to show how open and nice governemtn can be, not so nice if you'll ever have to lift a finger to actually answer some drunken twats random request for a bit of info they neither need nor want
I know theres other civil servants on the board, are you're departments making a big deal of this as well?
Sorry for the rant, its 2am and i'm a wee bit worse for wear what with it being xmas and all