A Maurice of FoI requests


I’ve made a number of FoI requests recently, which haven’t justified their own blog post yet, but which may be useful for others.

I’m not sure if there’s actually a collective noun for Freedom of Information Requests, but a Maurice seems appropriate. CFoI need some long term sustainability help, if your organisation values FoI, it should value CFoI more.

Cambridgeshire County Council

The main thing I do on Fix My Street in Cambridge is related to potholes capable of causing an cycling incident. Most of the time, these are failed repairs, either on a previous pothole, or roadworks.

Given this, I wondered whether it was one company doing things cheaply and badly, or whether it was one particularly company, contractor, or similar. Here’s the request.

Having had a very helpful call from the nice people at Cambridgeshire County Council, where they talked me through what it was they had, and their experience of dealings with the utilities who want the roads dug, and the contractors who do the digging, where there are clear incentives not to have failed repairs on any side. Any repair that fails within 2 years has to be redone at the contractor’s expense.

The detailed reply received summarised the fact that Cambridge roads get dug up rather a lot; and there’s a very small failure rate which isn’t correlated with anything in particular in the Cambridgeshire dataset.

Had the Met Office ever made available their historical weather dataset, that might have been interesting to match in for when failed repairs were done. But they didn’t.

In summary, I get to keep reporting faults, but in the knowledge that most of the time, the repairs hold.


Parliament has agreed a contract with Microsoft to move all email to Office365, and file shares to Skydrive. What could possibly go wrong?, even if the plans don’t fail. The Parliamentary Office of Information and Communications Techologies (PICT) is a bicameral body, as it reports to both Houses, so we see different information in different reports. As usual, the Lords is much more transparent and informative than the Commons.

Having generated a bit of interest in this on twitter, others asked about the various background documents (most of which are public for the Lords 1, 2 3 , with summaries of the same documents in the Commons ).

As with most migrations, it didn’t go well, and is still going badly.

The migration apparently got held, because, according to the contractors/PICT “too many people were watching PMQs on the internet”. Which, according to PICT’s monitoring of helpdesk reports, just isn’t accurate. While Parliament may not have enough bandwidth to ship all it’s file shares via Ireland/Netherlands/Fort Meade, it clearly does have enough bandwidth to stream lots of copies of the PMQs video at lunchtime each Wednesday.

But the roll-out is delayed, still. How delayed? This is how, seemingly badly.

As with all consultant driven deployments of technologies, the consultants are happy. Although I never did ask how much PICT spent on their “innovation” work around 3D-printing. What about user needs? Apparently, the Lords Management Board was interesting this week, and will be interesting reading when those minutes appear in around a month.

Mar 2014
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