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If your question isn't answered here, or you just wanted to let us know something about the site, contact us.

Making requests

I'm not sure which authority to make my request to, how can I find out? #

It can be hard to untangle government's complicated structured, and work out who knows the information that you want. Here are a few tips:

  • Browse or search Sobanukirwa looking for similar requests to yours.
  • When you've found an authority you think might have the information, use the "home page" link on the right hand side of their page to check what they do on their website.
  • Contact the authority by phone or email to ask if they hold the kind of information you're after.
  • Don't worry excessively about getting the right authority. If you get it wrong, they ought to advise you who to make the request to instead.
  • If you've got a thorny case, please contact us for help.
You're missing the public authority that I want to request from! #

Please contact us with the name of the public authority and, if you can find it, their contact email address for access to information requests.

If you'd like to help add a whole category of public authority to the site, we'd love to hear from you too.

Why must I keep my request focused?#

Please put in your request only what is needed so that someone can easily identify what information you are asking for. Please do not include any of the following:

  • arguments about your cause
  • statements that could defame or insult others

If you do, we may have to remove your request to avoid problems with libel law, which is a pain for both you and us. Short, succinct messages make it easier for authorities to be clear what information you are requesting, which means you will get a reply more quickly.

If you want information to support an argument or campaign, access to information is a powerful tool. Although you may not use this site to run your campaign, we encourage you to use it to get the information you need. We also encourage to run your campaign elsewhere - one effective and very easy way is to start your own blog. You are welcome to link to your campaign from this site in an annotation to your request (you can make annotations after submitting the request).

Does it cost me anything to make a request?#

Making an ATI request is nearly always free. The ministerial orders state that "the provision of the information shall be free of charge" but they also state that "charges for making copies or sending information may be charged to the applicant" if the applicant does not "bring necessary equipment or tools to collect the required information".

How quickly will I get a response? #

By law, public authorities must respond promptly to requests, normally within three days.

Sobanukirwa will email you if you don't get a timely response. You can then send the public authority a message to remind them, and tell them if they are breaking the law.

What if I never get a response?#

There are several things you can do if you never get a response.

  • Sometimes there has been a genuine problem and the authority never received the request. It is worth telephoning the authority and politely checking that they received the request. It was sent to them by email.
  • If they have not received it, the problem is most likely due to "spam filters". Refer the authority to the measures in the answer 'I can see a request on Sobanukirwa, but we never got it by email!' in the information officers section of this help.
  • If you're still having no luck, then you can complain to the Office of the Ombudsman about the authority. Read our page 'Unhappy about the response you got?'.
What if I'm not satisfied with the response? #
If you didn't get the information you asked for, or you didn't get it in time, then read our page 'Unhappy about the response you got?'.
Can I request information about myself? #

No. Requests made using Sobanukirwa are public, made under the access to information law, and cannot help you find information about a private individual.

If you see that somebody has included personal information, perhaps unwittingly, in a request, please contact us immediately so we can remove it.

I'd like to keep my request secret! (At least until I publish my story) #

Sobanukirwa is currently only designed for public requests. All responses that we receive are automatically published on the website for anyone to read.

You should contact the public authority directly if you would like to make a request in private. If you're interested in buying a system which helps you manage information requests in secret, then contact us.

Can I make the same request to lots of authorities, e.g. all sectors? #
We ask you to first send a test version of your request to a few authorities. Their responses will help you improve the wording of your request, so that you get the best information when you send the request to all of the authorities. There is currently no automated system for sending the request to the other authorities, you must copy and paste it by hand.
I made a request off the site, how do I upload it to the archive?#
Sobanukirwa is an archive of requests made through the site, and does not try to be an archive of all ATI requests. We'll never support uploading other requests. For one thing, we wouldn't be able to verify that other responses actually came from the authority. If this really matters to you, you can always make the same request again via Sobanukirwa.
How do you moderate request annotations? #

Annotations on Sobanukirwa are to help people get the information they want, or to give them pointers to places they can go to help them act on it. We reserve the right to remove anything else.

Endless, political discussions are not allowed. Post a link to a suitable forum or campaign site elsewhere.

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