Image credit: Miroslav Petrasko / Creative Commons / Flickr

Councillors and officials in Birmingham are now publishing all of the Freedom of Information Act responses they provide online.

In a short video uploaded with a tweet, councillor Tristan Chatfield said he was “delighted” to announce that all the FOI responses would be published on its website.

“This is a bold step forward in making sure Birmingham City Council is as transparent with its citizens as it can be,” the Labour councillor said in the video.

He continued to say that all the responses from September 2017 and onwards would be searchable online. The FOI response page is viewable here.

“We aim to publish all responses sent to requests in the disclosure log,” the council’s website says. “Information held within the disclosure log is only accurate as of the date of each response”.

The move is obviously a step in the right direction, 12 years after the FOI Act first came into force. Despite the decade or so it has taken Birmingham to do this, it’s still one of the few authorities that do. There’s no legal requirement for all FOI responses to be published.

One thing that could be improved by Birmingham’s website though is the discoverability of requests. It’s possible to look at requests made by using a search form or selecting the dates when you want to see requests.

It’s likely that anyone on the path to enlightenment would find it easier if there was another method available. Maybe categories of information business areas of the council? At least the website does allow information provided in response to requests to be downloaded as well.

I am a journalist and author. I am a journalist at the UK edition of WIRED magazine. In 2015, my first book Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. My second book Reed Hastings: Building Netflix, was published in March 2020. I created FOI Directory in 2012 and have maintained it in my spare time ever since.