The wording of your RTI request can make a big difference to how successful you are in getting the information you want. Follow these tips:
- Try to make your request simple, clear and precise. The more specific your RTI request, the easier it will be for PIO to find the information you want
- As a general guide, avoid subjective questions (e.g. seeking explanations or opinions) and stick to more fact-based and objective questions
- Don’t ask for different information in the same RTI request. Submit separate requests for different types of information
The following examples show how you can choose the wording in your request to ensure a positive response:
Don’t ask open-ended questions, like ‘How much does the government spend on foreign trips for ministers?’ The PIO could be confused about: ‘Which ministers? – all of them, some of them; ‘Over what time period? – the past year, since the elections, and so on. Instead ask, ‘How much was spent on the visit to Malaysia in June 2013 by the Minister of Education and his entourage? This is much more specific and thus easier to find.
Don’t ask ‘Why is my application for 'X' allowance taking so long?’ Since this could be subjective and open-ended, but rather ‘What has happened to my application for reimbursment of medical bill?’ – getting this information will enable you to see where your application has been held up.
Requests per Department and Type of Information
Don’t ask ‘How many permits has the District Government issued for butchers in the last fiscal year and how much is the District Government spending on water supply?’ in the same RTI request, since these are different types of information and relate to completely different departments. It would be better to submit two separate RTI requests for this information.