Submitting Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to Monmouthshire Council has been made easier for Twitter users after the council issued instructions on asking questions using the FOI act this week.
Last year the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that Twitter is a valid medium for sending Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, and the council has said it will receive FoIs this way via their @monmouthshirecc Twitter account.
Cabinet Member for Communications and Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Bob Greenland, said:
“This is a move to make submitting FoI requests more convenient for people who use Twitter. Of course the more traditional channels of communication may suit many people but we felt that giving another way to contact us only makes us more approachable. We are committed to using digital means of talking to us to encourage as much involvement in democracy as possible.”
In a post published on the council blog www.monmouthshirecc.wordpress.com a brief description is given on how to make a request for information under the FoI Act:
“FoI requests need to be recorded in a permanent form, which means they are usually made by email or posted letter. Unless you tell us otherwise, we would normally respond via the medium used to contact us so email requests have email responses, and letter requests have letter responses. Responses are due within 20 working days of when we receive the request.
If you’d like to use Twitter to submit an FOI request then you will need to include in your tweet:
“@monmouthshirecc”: our Twitter @username so we are aware of your request
your contact details (e.g. email address or home address)
E.g. “@monmouthshirecc FOI request: What did you spend on recycling collection 2009-10? Jo Blogs, firstname.lastname@example.org”
Of course each tweet only gives you 140 characters so you could blog your question and contact details then send us a link via Twitter. This will give you more room to elaborate.
E.g. “@monmouthshirecc FOI request: www.joblogs.com/foirequestblogpost”
The process for Twitter FoIs is:
our communications team receive the tweet
it’s sent to the FoI team who will ensure the answer is blogged or emailed within 20 working days of getting the tweet
if you asked for response by Twitter we will send a link to that blog post with the answer to you to the account where you made the request (or the FOI team will email or post it to you if you’d prefer)
E.g. In response to:
“@monmouthshirecc FOI request: What did you spend on recycling collection 2009-10? Jo Blogs, email@example.com”
We would respond within 20 working days with:
“@joblogs Here is a response to your FoI www.monmouthshirecc.wordpress.com/FoIanswer1″
In all cases of FoI requests, where people specify how they would like their response (e.g. electronically, by post or email) we will do our best to provide the answer in that format if practical.
If you would prefer you details and question were kept private then you can use email or contact us by letter:
The Performance Monitoring Officer,
Cwmbran NP44 2XH