FOI request detail

ICT expenditure

Request ID: FOI-1215-1819
Date published: 30 August 2018

You asked

Please could you provide me with information about your organisation's ICT expenditure as detailed in the attached template. I have tried to find this information in your organisation's published data, but was unable to find the level detail I require. I fully expect that you may not be able to provide all the information I am looking for. If this is the case, please provide me with as much information as you can within the template. For example: you may be able to sub-totals for some categories, or provide information for only for certain years. Within the response, please include: - Expenditure from all parts of your organisation (centralised IT and departmental IT); - As well as your own organisation, expenditure for any subsidiary organisations that fall within the scope of your accounts; and, - Both revenue (or operating) expenditure and capital expenditure.

We answered

Our ref: FOI-1215-1819/GH

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 31 July 2018 asking for information about our ICT expenditure.

Your request has been considered under the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and our information access policy.

I can confirm that we do hold the information you require. However, we have concluded that your request is vexatious and therefore, we are refusing your request under section 14(1) of the Act, as we consider that providing the requested information would place an unreasonable burden on us. Our principal duty is to provide an effective transport service for London and we consider that answering this request would represent a disproportionate effort. It would be a significant distraction from our work managing the TfL network, requiring re-allocation of resources and placing an unacceptable burden on personnel across the business. We do wish to clarify that whilst we consider that your request falls under section 14(1) of the FOI Act, this does not reflect a conclusion that it has been your intention to deliberately place an undue burden on our resources.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance states that one of the indicators of a request which may fall under section 14(1) is that it “appears to be part of a completely random approach, lacks any clear focus, or seems to have been solely designed for the purpose of ‘fishing’ for information without any idea of what might be revealed.”

The ICO guidance provides the following examples of a ‘fishing expedition’ request which may fall under section 14(1) if it:

- Imposes a burden by obliging the authority to sift through a substantial volume of information to isolate and extract the relevant details;

- Encompasses information which is only of limited value because of the wide scope of the request;

- Creates a burden by requiring the authority to spend a considerable amount of time considering any exemptions and redactions.

Our view is that all three of these examples apply in this instance. You have asked for the value of circa 30 items, providing definitions of which devices, services and applications would fall under each item. You have requested this information for centralised IT and departmental IT, and for subsidiary organisations of TfL. To answer your request fully we would need to ask every department to provide their own responses. Which, for a company as large as TfL (& its subsidiaries) would take an excessive amount of resources with no obvious public interest.

Whilst we note that you have said you expect that we may not be able to fully answer your request, we are unable to provide ‘as much information as you can…’, as completing your template would be a huge task for any one area of the company, and choosing one at random as a starting point is unlikely to provide you with any useful information.

To provide a response within the appropriate cost limit specified in the FOI Fees Regulations we’d need to keep asking departments to locate, retrieve and compile the requested information, until we were satisfied that we’d provided as much information as possible within the cost limit. As well as considering where it would be reasonable to stop, we would have as much difficulty in knowing where to start with dealing with this request.

We consider the burden of retrieving and compiling the information would be disproportionate to the benefit of providing it. Therefore, due to the wide and unfocused scope of your request, we are refusing it under s.14 of the FOI Act. If you would like to re-submit a more focused, specific request then we will, of course, consider it. For example, a request for the value of a specific departments expenditure may be easier to answer.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Graham Hurt

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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