March 2012

Request:

'With regards to the forthcoming introduction of 'Discovery' at The National Archives can you please advise if the development (or any involvement in the development) and / or management of and /or implementation of this facility (either to a fixed or fluid schedule, or to no schedule at all) has either fully or partially, directly or indirectly, contributed to or may in the future contribute to any bonus payment or any other form of remuneration enhancement (above any existing agreed and fixed remuneration scale) either financial or otherwise to any one or more employee(s) of The National Archives (regardless of their terms of employment).'

Outcome:

Partial successful, some information exempt.

Response:

The National Archives only pays bonuses at fixed points in the year, which relate to the end of the financial and reporting year. Therefore the most current information we hold relating to any bonus payments would be for the financial year 2010/2011. To clarify, we do not hold any data relating to the future payment of bonuses.

The Discovery Project team is comprised of 24 staff pulled from various business areas across The National Archives with skills relevant to the project. For these individuals time spent on the development, management and implementation of this facility is dependent on their skills and the project requirement. This varies from between 10% -100% of their time.

In answer to your specific request regarding bonus payments made to the Discovery project team, we are unable to confirm how many staff received this payment for their work on Discovery for a number of reasons.

Firstly this is because staff who are awarded the 'exceed' marking for overall end-of-year performance, and are therefore eligible for a bonus, are assessed according to all of their objectives across the year and not specific projects. For staff who work on the Discovery project full time an 'exceeded' marking could be seen as a direct result of their work on the project as their objectives would relate specifically to Discovery. For other staff it would not be possible to separate objectives relating to Discovery from those which do not. 

Secondly, supplying the figure for those who we can confirm as having received a bonus for Discovery work would identify these individuals. This is because only a small number of individuals work on this project full time and from other information available and already published on our website it would be possible to identify them. As bonuses are related to the 'exceeded' marking in the performance review process, and are individual to each person, such information is considered personal data.

Therefore we have determined that the exemption at Section 40 (2) & (3)(a)(i) of the FOI Act would apply.

Section 40 exemption: this section exempts personal information about a 'third party' (that is, someone other than the enquirer), if revealing it would break the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, or if the person that the information relates to would not have a right to know about it or a right of access to it under that Act (because of its exemption provisions). The 1998 Act prevents personal information being released if, for example, it would be unfair or at odds with the reason why it was collected, or where the individual whom the information was about had properly served notice that releasing it would cause major and unnecessary damage or distress.

Release of information about individuals' work performance and assessment, would be unfair as there would be no expectation that such information would be released into the public domain for scrutiny. As such release could potentially cause damage and distress to the individuals concerned. Consequently disclosure would breach the first principle (fair and lawful processing) of the Data Protection Act, 1998. This material is thus considered exempt from release under sections 40(2) and 40(3)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act

We have carefully considered how best to answer your request in order to balance the legitimate scrutiny a public authority may be subject to when dealing with public money and the individual's rights under the Data Protection Act.