Q1 and Q2 2006 List of Uses - DWP Longitudinal Study - FOIA request

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It is disappointing to see what has happened to the relatively good start which the Department for Work and Pensions made towards transparency and open government, following our first FOIA request regarding the controversial DWP Longitudinal Study.

Although this is a statistical tool, which is supposed to help make the distribution of state benefits more equitable, and to help crack down on fraud, there is a huge potential for privacy and security abuse of the combined data set of Social Security databases and Tax records (going back for the last 24 years), through what is actually a permanent statutory data sharing gateway and is not simply a one off exercise, but a continuous programme of rearch projects and investigations.

That is why there is supposed to be an independent Ethics Committee which scrutinises various datamining project requests.

The DWP have promised to publish the List of Uses to which such sensitive and powerful datasets are being put to, on paper and on their website, every 3 months

However, either due to some ongoing malrkey with the DWP website, or the loss of mrale and staff cuts at the DWP, there has been no information on these authorised Uses published throughout 2006 i.e. at least two Quarters of information is missing.

Will our FOIA request below prompt them into action ?

Freedom of Information Act Request: DWP Longitudinal Study - List of Uses for Q1 and Q2 of 2006

WPLS Ethics Committee Secretariat
Department for Work and Pensions
Level 2, Kings Court
S3 7UF
Telephone : 0114 209 8125
Fax : 0114 209 8189
Web site : http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/longitudinal_study/ic_longitudinal_study.asp
email : wpls@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
cc: peo@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Friday 15th September 2006

Freedom of Information Act 2000
Formal Request for Information

Dear Sir or Madam

Please provide me with the following information:

1) the DWP Longitudinal Study List of Data Uses for the first and second quarters of 2006.

Currently, if you follow the link from the main Longidtudinal Study webapage, there is a version of this on the public DWP website appears to be dated October 2005


There is also the previous List of Uses page


which is now no longer linked from the main Longitudinal Study page, which further links to the now out of date Excel Spreadsheet:


which is dated 06 January 2005 08:58:30

However, the published Safeguards document


statse that the List of Data Uses will be published on paper and on the website every 3 months:

"A full list of uses for which the database was put will be published every three months

To make DWP transparently accountable to the public for all work on the database

An internet and paper-based version of this document will be published. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/longitudinal_study/ic_longitudinal_study.asp"

It is now September 2006, so I would like the to see the two missing quarterly Full Lists of Uses for the DWP/HM Revenue Longitudinal Study, published on the website or sent via email.

2) The contact phone number published :
"email WPLS@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone DWP Information Directorate Information Centre
0191 2253839"

is now unobtainable

Please publish the up to date contact details for the Ethics Committee and/or for general DWP Longitudinal Study enquiries, rather than just in an Appendix to the Annual Report in .pdf format.

I note from the Annual Report, that several members of the Ethics Committee have public relations experience, so they might wish to look in to the current lack of public transparency about the DWP Longitudinal Study on the public website.

Please provide the information ideally by publishing it on your public world wide website, or alternatively by email.

In the unlikely event that this information is not already available in a standard electronic format, then please explain the reasons why, when you provide the information in another format.

If you are proposing to make a charge for providing the information requested, please provide full details in advance, together with an explanation of any proposed charge

If you decide to withhold any of the information requested you should clearly explain why you have done so in your response, by reference to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 legislation. If your decision to withhold is based upon an evaluation of the public interest, then you should clearly explain which public interests you have considered, and why you have decided that the public interest in maintaining the exception(s) outweighs the public interest in releasing the information.

I look forward to receiving the information requested as soon as possible and in any event within 20 working days of receipt. i.e. by Monday 9th October 2006

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

If you require any clarification of this request please contact me as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

1 TrackBack

Apparently the DWP FOI Focus Centre tried unsuccessfully to email a response to our Q1 and Q2 2006 List of Uses - DWP Longitudinal Study - FOIA request After another failed attempt today, another DWP official, in the department which... Read More

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It is now more than a week past the statutory 20 working days requirement for the DWP to havw replied to our FOIA request.

We did send them a reminder last Wednesday i.e. 2 days past the statutory limit.

Still no sign of any updates to the Longitudinal Study section of the DWP website


About this blog

This United Kingdom based blog has been spawned from Spy Blog, and is meant to provide a place to track our Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests to United Kingdom Government and other Public Authorities.

If you have suggestions for other FOIA requests,  bearing in mind the large list of exemptions, then email them to us, or use the comments facility on this blog, and we will see  what we can do, without you yourself having to come under the direct scrutiny of  "Sir Humphrey Appleby" or his minions.

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