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Introduction to WhatDoTheyKnow #

What is WhatDoTheyKnow for? #

To help you find out inside information about the UK Government and UK public bodies. The site helps people access information about central government, local government, Parliament, the NHS, the armed forces, state funded schools and universities and other public authorities.

You can also use the site to find out information that regulators hold about businesses, charities and other organisations.

How does the site work? #
You choose the public authority that you would like information from, then write a brief note describing what you want to know. We then send your request to the public authority. Any response received is automatically published on the website for you and anyone else to find and read.
Why would I bother to do this? #
You pay taxes, and then government does things with the money. All sorts of things that affect your life, from health care through to national defence. Some it does badly, some it does well. The more we find out about how government works, the better able we are to make suggestions to improve the things that are done badly, and to celebrate the things that are done well. Some people also use the site for research.
Why would the public authority bother to reply? #
Under Freedom of Information (FOI) law, they have to respond. The response will either contain the information you want, or give a valid legal reason why it has not been provided.
Does useful information get released through the site? #
Yes. Thousands of documents have been released through the site. See also: 366 Interesting things that we know because of WhatDoTheyKnow.
What if I see a request I feel to be inappropriate? #

Requests for personal information and vexatious requests are not considered valid for FOI purposes (read more).

If you believe a request is not suitable, you can report it for attention by the site administrators.

Why won't it let me report some requests? #

If a request has already been reported to the site administrators, you can't report it a second time - this is to prevent the administrators being notified multiple times about the same issue before they've had a chance to conduct a review.

Where a request has been previously reported but an administrator has chosen not to hide it from public view, you can use the form in the sidebar of the request page to contact the administrators if you still think it should be hidden.

How many people use the site? #
We have over 140,000 registered users and around 15% to 20% of requests to UK Central Government are made through the site.
Who makes WhatDoTheyKnow? #

WhatDoTheyKnow is run and maintained by UK Citizens Online Democracy (UKCOD) as part of its mySociety project. UKCOD is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 1076346). UKCOD is also a limited company registered in England and Wales (no. 03277032) and a registered data controller (no. Z9602302). The UKCOD trustees form the governing body of the charity and are ultimately responsible for controlling the management and administration of the charity. UKCOD's registered office is 483 Green Lanes, London, N13 4BS. UKCOD is not a public body.

The site was initially funded by the JRSST Charitable Trust.

If you like what we're doing, then you can make a donation.

How can I keep up with news about WhatDoTheyKnow?#
We have a blog and a twitter feed.

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