Help pages

Contact us

If your question isn't answered here, or you just wanted to let us know something about the site, contact us.

OIA officer questions #

I just got here from bottom of an OIA request, what is going on? #

FYI is a service run by volunteers. It helps ordinary members of the public make OIA requests, and easily track and share the responses.

The OIA request you received was made by someone using FYI. You can simply reply to the request as you would any other request from an individual. The only difference is that your response will be automatically published on the Internet.

If you have privacy or other concerns, please read our privacy policy. You might also like to read this page from the top to find out more about what the site does from the point of view of a user. You can also search the site to find the organisation that you work for, and view the status of any requests made using the site.

Finally, we welcome comments and thoughts from departments, Ministers, and local authorities, please get in touch.

Why are you publishing responses to OIA requests?

We think there are lots of benefits. Most importantly it will encourage the public to be more interested and involved in the work of government. We also hope that it will reduce the number of duplicate requests on any subject that a public body will receive. Given that Official Information Act responses contain public information, which anybody could easily request again from the government department, we think there should be no reason not to publish it widely.

Are the people making requests real people? #
Yes. For the purposes of keeping track of responses we use computer-generated email addresses for each request. However, before they can send a request, each user must register on the site with a unique email address that we then verify. You can search this site and find a page listing all requests that each person has made.
Aren't you making lots of vexatious requests? #

FYI is not making any requests. We are sending requests on behalf of our users, who are real people making the requests.

Look at it like this - if lots of different people made requests from different Hotmail email addresses, then you would not think that Microsoft were making vexatious requests. It is exactly the same if lots of requests are made via FYI. Moreover, since all requests are public it is much easier for you to see if one of our users is making vexatious requests, and for us to block them when that happens.

I can see a request on FYI, but we never got it by email!#

If a request appears on the site, then we have attempted to send it to the department by email. Any delivery failure messages will automatically appear on the site. You can check the address we're using with the 'View OIA email address' link which appears on the page for the organisation. Contact us if there is a better address we can use.

Requests are sometimes not delivered because they are quietly removed by 'spam filters' in the IT department of the government department. Departments can make sure this doesn't happen by asking their IT departments to 'whitelist' any email from . If you ask us we will resend any request, and/or give technical details of delivery so an IT department can chase up what happened to the message.

Finally, you can respond to any request from your web browser, without needing any email, using the 'respond to request' link at the bottom of each request page.

How do you calculate the deadline shown on request pages?#

FYI attempts to show the maximum legal deadline. Here is the complex detail of how we calculate it, and some things we currently get wrong.

  • If the day we deliver the request by email is a working day, we count that as 'day zero', even if it was delivered late in the evening. Days end at midnight. We then count the next working day as 'day one', and so on up to 20 days.
  • If the day the request email was sent was a non-working day, we count the next working day as 'day zero'. This isn't required by law, but it is an extra extension that we kindly offer.
  • Requesters are encouraged to mark when they have clarified their request so the clock resets, but sometimes they get this wrong. If you see a problem with a particular request, let us know and we'll fix it.

How can I send a large file, which won't go by email?#
Instead of email, you can respond to a request directly from your web browser, including uploading a file. To do this, choose "respond to request" at the bottom of the request's page. Contact us if it is too big for even that (more than, say, 50Mb).
Why do you publish the names of civil servants and the text of emails? #
We consider what officers or servants do in the course of their employment to be public information. We will only remove content in exceptional circumstances, see our take down policy.
Do you publish email addresses or mobile phone numbers? #

To prevent spam, we automatically remove most emails and some mobile numbers from responses to requests. Please contact us if we've missed one. For technical reasons we don't always remove them from attachments, such as certain PDFs.

If you need to know what an address was that we've removed, please get in touch with us. Occasionally, an email address forms an important part of a response and we will post it up in an obscured form in an annotation.

Our Official Information Act law is mostly "applicant blind", so anyone in the world can request the same document and get a copy of it. If you think our making a document available on the internet infringes your copyright, you may contact us and ask us to take it down. However, to save tax payers' money by preventing duplicate requests, and for good public relations, we'd advise you not to do that.

If you haven't already, read the introduction -->
Otherwise, the credits or the programmers API -->