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Bonkers Blog June 2011

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3 June (Part 2) - The Contact Centre

I looked in the council’s Contact Centre this afternoon; a bit of a queue, not intolerably bad, but long enough to study their target response times again. 20 seconds to answer a phone call, two days to respond to a web-based enquiry and five days for emails and letters. Quite ambitious but do they get close? I must confess I have found they sometimes do but I also hear of failures on the grand scale.

One that came my way not long ago was from someone who followed up a case of no acknowledgement, no reply, on the sixth working day. The enquiry that had fallen on deaf ears was itself a comment on another enquiry about an FOI which had gone off the radar. (This report is already in danger of going around in an incestuous circle.)

On the seventh working day the Contact Centre responded to the effect that it had now decided to send the enquiry about the neglected FOI to the Freedom of Information Officer as a new FOI for their attention. So now we have an FOI about an FOI because the first one was delayed and the Contact Centre didn’t acknowledge the chaser.

The council seems to think they now have 20 days to answer the follow up. They haven’t, the Information Commissioner (IC) is very clear on that matter, the clock starts ticking from the time the enquiry first lands in a council Inbox. The time can’t be far off when someone’s patience with FOI delays snaps and a complaint goes to the IC’s Office. I have a load of green ticks ready to sprinkle in the FOI list to replace some of those red crosses.


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