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Departmental Databases

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what databases are (a) owned and (b) maintained by (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies. (185414)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) uses a large number of databases. The most significant of these are managed centrally. These support activities across the organisation, such as the processing of visa applications from foreign nationals, passport issue overseas, consular assistance and financial and personnel administration.

Many others, where there is no operational need to share data, are locally owned and maintained, either by diplomatic posts overseas or departments in the UK. A survey in 2005 identified more than 1,000 of these, of varying size and complexity, holding over 1 million records supporting the full range of activities undertaken by the FCO worldwide.

There are two FCO agencies. FCO Services maintains databases to support the operational services provided to the FCO. Wilton Park keeps records relating to the conferences held there. Both also use databases in support of internal administration (such as staff records, financial data and other organisational information).