Silence from the Cabinet Office on staff bonuses

No response to Freedom of Information request within specified time

The Cabinet Office has failed after two months to respond to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act that should have been answered within 20 working days.

On 3 March this year, Third Sector asked the department, which houses the Office of the Third Sector, how many OTS staff had received bonuses in the past three financial years and the total value of the bonuses each year.

The question was asked after third sector minister Angela Smith told Parliament in February that the Cabinet Office had awarded 745 bonuses worth a total of £1.7m in 2007/08. The OTS employs about 60 of the 1,280 staff in the Cabinet Office.

Jenny Manock, casework manager at the Information Commissioner's Office, contacted the department after 20 days, reminding it of its responsibilities under the act and asking it to respond within 10 working days.

On the 10th day last week, a Cabinet Office spokeswoman told Third Sector: "We are still looking at the detail of this FoI request and will respond to it in due course."

Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrat Cabinet Office spokeswoman, said the department appeared to have something to hide. "Other departments have already published information about staff bonuses," she said.

Tory charities spokesman Nick Hurd said: "If we learnt anything from the MP expenses scandal, it was about the importance of transparency. This secrecy is wrong."

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