Submitting FoI requests by Twitter

Last year the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that Twitter is a valid medium for sending Fredom of Information (FoI) requests, and we are happy to receive FOIs this way via our @monmouthshirecc Twitter account.

So here is a brief description on how you can make a request for information under the FoI Act in Monmouthshire.

FoI requests need to be recorded in a permanent form, which means they are usually made by email or 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 name
  • your contact details (e.g. email address or home address)
  • your question

E.g. “@monmouthshirecc FOI request: What did you spend on recycling collection 2009-10? Jo Blogs,”

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:”;

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,”

We would respond within 20 working days with:

“@joblogs Here is a response to your FoI″;

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,
1st Floor
County Hall
Cwmbran   NP44 2XH

Monmouthshire County Council
PO Box 106
NP26 9AN

[edited 22/10/12]


Posted by Helen in Communications

How we went from 22, 000 web pages to 469

Joanna Goodwin:

A post from one of our officers, Joanna Goodwin about the developments to content on the Monmouthshire website

Originally posted on Joanna Goodwin:

Local authority websites are notoriously huge websites with masses of content. When I started with Monmouthshire County Council in December, 2011, we had over 22,000 pages on the corporate website. This has huge implications for users- not only was the site slow and ‘clunky’ but finding any information was very difficult.

We had thousands of pages that were very poor quality. I remember we had 12 pages about home composting (who would bother reading that?!) and 6 versions of our council tax page (which is the right page?!). There was no clarity or consistency throughout the site so we took on the content.

Our first step was to look at our analytics and see what pages were popular, and which weren’t. We found that 500 pages had no hits in the past year so decided to simply delete them- no one even noticed!

After this we grouped the content to mirror our…

View original 569 more words

Content first approach

Our website is a public sector website that delivers services to people in Monmouthshire. The people in Monmouthshire come to the website for a key purpose, often to complete a task such as finding their next bin collection day. We can see from data collected from the website most users do not browse the site but come to complete their task before leaving the website.

In February 2014, our statistics show that only 5.2% of visitors went to the homepage of the website- most users went directly to a content page. The most popular pages on our website are jobs, leisure timetables, bus timetables and planning applications- not the homepage.

It is this reason we  focus on developing site content and transactional capabilities- to make those specific tasks easier and faster to complete for users.

Following by example

Everything we do on the Monmouthshire corporate website is because it is good practice, or improves the user experience. We will never develop or change anything ‘because we want to’.

The aim of GOV.UK is to bring all government information and services into one place. We developed our site in line with these principles. Mainly, we want to keep the information simple and user focused.

The design of GOV.UK has won awards based on simplicity and service delivery and cutting out some of the noise. The design doesn’t have pretty pictures or flashy designs that don’t add value that other websites, such as Ling’s cars have been recognised for.

We want to keep the site simple to ensure our users can access services quickly and effectively. We believe that if the website’s audience is residents, the content should be on a single platform. GOV.UK has cut over 1700 websites in the past year and moved the content onto it’s main website. This not only saves money but provides consistency and clarity for government services.

In Monmouthshire, we are working towards streamlining our digital services.

We strongly believe less is more and over the past 2 years, have reduced our content from over 22,000 pages to around 500. telling users what they want to know, not what we want to tell them.

The public rightly sees some departments as having their own separate identity. As such, their organisational effectiveness is enhanced by them maintaining their own websites. A good example of this is tourism websites. It is important any separate websites exist for the benefit of the user and to ensure organisational success- not because a service wants one.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers