Information request register
The information request register is a downloadable and customisable tool designed to help institutions to log and track information on the requests for information they receive under either the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), Data Protection Act (DPA) or Environmental Information Regulations (EIR).
By using it institutions will also automatically capture the data JISC infoNet requires as part of its annual Information Legislation and Management Survey – though it is entirely voluntary whether institutions wish to submit data in this way, or wish to keep its use for internal purposes only.
ZIP, 1.36MB – please make sure you enable macros when you open the spreadsheets. Full instructions on using the register are available on Google Drive.
The register is available for use now and we have timed its release to allow practitioners to familiarise themselves with the tool and start using it from January 2013, should they wish to use it to collect data for their information legislation and management survey submission for 2013.
Do I need to register?
No, but it would be great if you could also spend just an extra minute or so answering a few questions as part of our voluntary registration process. This will help us monitor the impact of the register and help plan its future development.
Why has the information request register been developed?
During the 2011 information legislation and management survey conducted in January 2012, JISC infoNet asked FOI practitioners if they would be interested in adopting a freely available Excel-based tool for logging FOI, EIR and DPA requests received and relevant information relating to them.
The response from the sector was very encouraging; 74% of survey participants (representing 48 institutions) expressed their interest in such a development.
By developing this register we hope to produce a tool which will help institutions to record, track and complete the requests they are receiving. By using this tool institutions will, should they wish, also be collecting the data JISC infoNet requires for its annual Information Legislation and Management Survey. By including this as an alternative mechanism for completing the survey we hope to reduce the burden that this can represent for those institutions who wish to be a part of it.
How has the information request register been developed?
The tool has been designed and developed by JISC infoNet.
Eight practitioners from across a range of HEIs in the UK volunteered to work with us on creating, testing and reviewing this tool. The tool has undergone thorough field testing by these volunteers, who logged a random sample of requests received during September and October 2012 to assess its functionality. Further changes were then carried out in the light of the feedback received.
The help and advice we have received from FOI practitioners has been invaluable. They have helped us to understand the internal processes for handling each request and shared their knowledge base about the rules governing calculation of deadlines.
What are people saying about the information request register?
During the review process we have received some very positive comments on the tools potential:
I would be very happy to use the tool for internal use and for the survey as long as I am satisfied that we can adapt it for our own internal reporting needs. This should save us a lot of time.
When asked what the users liked most about the tool some of the respondents remarked:
The fact that FOI, EIR and DPA requests can be logged on one spreadsheet. I also liked the automatically generated internal staff deadline – this was very helpful.
Structured recording of FOI requests that then allow feed in to answering the annual JISC return. I also like the summary data.
We have found the automatic calculation of the ‘working days to respond’, ‘working days to go’ and the ‘status’ particularly helpful.
Summary reports are very useful and similar to the ones we use with our current system – The tool captures most of the information we need and will make completing the annual survey a lot easier.
What are the benefits of using the information request register?
We believe adoption of the information request register offers the following benefits for those institutions currently without a sophisticated request tracking system.
- The tool provides a single mechanism for logging all information requests, regardless of the legislation they relate to
- It automatically calculates deadlines, taking into account the variations between different access regimes and bank holidays
- Easy at a glance monitoring of approaching deadlines
- Delivered in Microsoft Excel, a familiar user interface for many staff across the sector, the tool avoids any technical barriers to adoption
- It can be easily adapted to suit local needs
- Useful, ready to use monitoring and management reports are provided as a part of the tool
- Data required for the annual JISC infoNet Information Legislation and Management Survey is captured with no extra effort required
- A greater level of accuracy and detail to the data collected through the annual JISC infoNet Information Legislation and Management Survey will be achieved
Is there anything else I need to know about it?
This tool is freely provided to further and higher education institutions in the UK under our Creative Commons licence further details of which are available from our website.
Whilst we will endeavour to resolve any technical issues you may encounter using the tool, we cannot guarantee that this will be so and offer no assurances in this regard. Likewise we would be happy to hear from you to discuss any ideas for further development or customisation and will do what we can to assist you with this.