Better case management of FOI and SARs: Benefits cases

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Louise Crow, Gareth Rees

Part of: FOI and SARs Management

This document describes benefits cases around further development of the work done in the ‘Better case management of FOI and SAR requests’ project, funded by the Local Digital Fund. This was a discovery and alpha project looking at the user journey for council staff who handle information requests to determine if there are improvements to be made by a new digital tool. The benefits cases were developed by mySociety in partnership with Hackney Council, Cornwall Council, Suffolk County Council, Stevenage Borough Council and East Herts District Council in early 2019.

We started this discovery and alpha project with the intention of prototyping transactions in an end-to-end open source case management system. As the project developed, we made two significant findings. Firstly, that one of the key unmet needs across local authorities was the ‘10,000 ft problem’ – the requirement for a broader focus on assessing a service and identifying strategies for improvement, which might include better case management systems, but also includes other approaches. The second finding came thanks to an approach by a development team at the Ministry of Justice who have been working on an open source correspondence tool. This answers some of the case management needs we identified as not well met by commercial options, and could serve as a base for further development.

Consequently we outline here four related options for continuing this work:

  • Option 1: A focused collaborative alpha project between two local authorities to further develop the Ministry of Justice correspondence tool into a full featured open source case management tool for use in local authorities.
  • Option 2: A small beta project to make available a public demo of the Ministry of Justice correspondence tool.
  • Option 3: A beta project around a self-assessment playbook for FOI/SAR service managers to assess their focus and get guidance on approaches to improvement.
  • Option 4: A small alpha around data standards for performance metrics.


  1. Executive Summary
    1. Our findings
    2. Our proposal
  2. Introduction
    1. Commercial disclosures
  3. Organisational need
    1. Value
    2. Cost
    3. Changes in demand
    4. Potential for increasing benefits
  4. Benefits cases
    1. Option 1: Focused alpha projects around full featured open source case management system
    2. Description
    3. Benefits
    4. Variable net benefits
    5. Demand reduction
    6. Reduced double entry on receipt of requests
    7. Process insight
    8. Process efficiency
    9. Fixed net benefits
    10. Software licensing fees
    11. Inhouse or contracted development costs
    12. Costs and challenges of procurement
    13. Cost to implement
    14. Development and delivery cost
    15. Maintenance and renewal costs
    16. Path to wider adoption and value to sector
    17. Option 2: Small project to produce widely available demo of open source case management
    18. Description
    19. Benefits
    20. Cost to implement
    21. Path to wider adoption and value to sector
    22. Option 3: Beta project around FOI/SAR service self-assessment playbook
    23. Description
    24. Benefits
    25. Variable net benefits
    26. Cost to implement
    27. Development and delivery costs
    28. Maintenance and renewal costs
    29. Path to wider adoption and value to sector
    30. Option 4: Data standards around performance metrics
    31. Description
    32. Benefits
    33. Cost to implement
    34. Path to wider adoption and value to sector
  5. Conclusions

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Cite this

Crow, L. and Rees, G. (2019). Better case management of FOI and SARs: Benefits cases. [online] mySociety Research. Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec 2019].