Q. What is the Information Fair Trader Scheme?

A. The Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS) sets and assesses standards for public sector bodies. It requires them to encourage the re-use of information and reach a standard of fairness and transparency.

Q. Why do we need IFTS if we already comply with the Freedom of Information Act?

A. The Freedom of Information Act is concerned with a citizen's right to access information. It does not include permission for individuals, public or private entities to re-use that information.

Q. Why are most government departments not members of IFTS?

A. Most government departments produce information which is licensed at marginal cost or for free, and licensing is not a significant part of their work. The National Archives is therefore responsible for most of the licensing process for these departments, using the Click-Use licence.

Trading funds with licensing responsibilities are the main exception. We use the IFTS to regulate the activities of these trading funds to ensure that they trade fairly, openly and transparently in information.

Q. What is a trading fund?

A. A trading fund is part of government established under the Government Trading Fund Act 1973.

Typically, trading funds operate in very specialised fields and rely on their ability to derive income from their activities in order to cover their costs. Most of the material originated does not fall within the scope of material which is seen as being central to the process of government.

Q. Must all trading funds join the scheme?

A. All trading funds that wish to undertake a licensing responsibility under a delegation of authority must join the scheme.

Q. What is delegated authority?

A. Delegated authority covers those cases where the Controller of HMSO has authorised a government department or agency to license the re-use of Crown copyright material on her behalf. This takes place where there are sound policy or practical benefits in doing so. All government trading funds have been offered delegations.

Q. We are not a trading fund - can we join the IFTS?

A. All public sector bodies that licence information can join the IFTS, so if you are interested in becoming IFTS accredited, please contact us.

Q. What are the advantages of IFTS accreditation for an organisation?

A. IFTS accreditation provides independent validation of an organisation's information trading activity. It reassures organisations that their processes and policies are compliant and consistent with government policy on information trading and that they meet the needs of existing or potential customers.

Q. What if the processes in place do not support a fair trader commitment?

A. The Controller of HMSO may delay accreditation until adequate administrative processes are in place to support the IFTS commitment. Alternatively, if the organisation is a Crown body, the Controller of HMSO may revoke the delegation and licensing will revert to being conducted through The National Archives.