WRITTEN ON March 12th, 2008 BY Adam McGreggor AND STORED IN Across the Board, Political engagement, What do we want?

As some people may have noticed, mySociety have recently launched another website. This one, WhatDoTheyKnow is a Freedom of Information filer, I’ll let you read the blurb on the site about how it works…

My efforts on this have mainly being collecting contact details for the ever-growing list of public bodies, to whom the Freedom of Information Act (and the supplementary orders, adding in new ones) applies.

Earlier on, I had a brain-fart. It went along the lines of:

what if there were a standard/Government Best-Practice/regulation, throughout the Civil Service (and anything on the {.ac,.gov,.mod,.nhs,.police,.sch}.uk LIR, really), for common ‘service’ email addresses.

e.g., in the way that RFC-2142 mandates (well, as much as RFCs are mandatory) “postmaster” and “hostmaster” to include:

“foi” for Freedom of Information
“dpa” for data protection
“secretary.of.state”
“ministers”
“permanent.secretary”

Or suitable alternatives/equivalents for the last three.

In doing so, things for individuals would (I’d say) be so much more useful: using aliases would remove the problems of individuals’ email addresses falling out of use, when people move on/change portfolio, it would enable people to not have to worry about looking for the email address on the webpage (where they are easily traceable on the body’s website…), it means reception desks can say “ah yes, you want foi@werock.gov.uk” and not “erm, I’m not sure, let me transfer you to IT/Legal Services, they might know”.

Perhaps even extend this over to constituency.mp@parliament.uk?

So, I guess the point of this post really is for a collective opinion gathering… hopefully it’ll be something for some of us to talk about at the next Govhack Afternoon Teas too?

(ooh, is that three plugs I managed to squeeze in?)

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