Better case management of FOI and SAR requests

This Alpha aimed to understand the user journey for staff who deal with FOI requests and SARs to prototype approaches to the unmet user needs they have discovered, and understand whether a digital solution and data standards could better support these.

After a previous Discovery project, the project team made improvements to process for dealing with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and Subject Access Requests (SARs), commissioned an open source service that provides a simple user journey for members of the public for making FOI requests, and procured a closed source commercial case management system in order to meet our immediate requirement for a back-end solution.

The project team aimed to develop a prototype of an end-to-end open-source solution that includes reporting and subsequent publishing of non-personal requests.

Project outputs

All Local Digital Fund Alpha projects were asked to provide the following information at completion:

  • User research report
  • Benefits case
  • A user experience demo or design pattern, a data model or a set of instructions
  • Recommendations for next steps

In May 2019, the project team submitted the following documents:

If you cannot access these documents, please contact the Local Digital team to receive them in an alternative format.

Feedback

Each project was assessed using these lenses by the Local Digital Collaboration Unit. We have provided feedback directly to the project teams and this is a summary of what we shared with them.

It aims to be constructive for both the project team and any other organisation wishing to learn about the project or make use of the work done.

 

  • The project team clearly articulated the problem, building on their work by validating discovery user research from Hackney Council with new project partners, this is a model that is likely to be of interest to other local authorities.
  • The project team undertook user research which included interviews, observation and process reviews to understand how partner local authorities handle FOI requests. This research was well presented and easily understandable by a range of audiences with differing levels of technical knowledge. The project team should consider adding information about user research participants to give confidence that the solution is feasible.
  • The project team produced a prototype self-assessment tool which is likely to be of interest to other local authorities. This tool considers FOIs through the lens of people, technology and process and provides tailored guidance for improving this service.
  • The product team worked in the open and their use of social media and Twitter lead to their discovery of a similar solution being developed at the Ministry of Justice. Using agile methodologies meant that the team were able to pivot to incorporate this new information which provides a useful example for other authorities who are considering agile ways of working.
  • The project team published their prototype in the open on Github, this is likely to help build a community of interest and helps to give confidence that the solution is scalable.

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