It’s a simple concept: citizens use Alaveteli to request information, and the replies are recorded for all to see on the website. Historic requests, along with any resulting correspondence, are archived publicly online. This increases the availability of the requested information, and encourages transparency. Therefore, Alaveteli acts both as a useful tool for citizens, and as an advocacy tool for right-to-know campaigners. The project supports FOI websites around the world.
If you are an organisation who wants to use Alaveteli in your jurisdiction, join our Google group for users of Alaveteli and introduce yourself. Currently, customising a new site using Alaveteli requires technical know-how. If you’re a developer who is interested in collaborating on the software, please send a message to our dev mailing list.
Groups who want to set up an Alaveteli website should note that its success depends on more than just deploying the software: it requires constant maintenance to ensure requests are successfully dealt with (whether from technical, usability or legal points of view). The project will therefore also develop a set of best practices for the human side of a successful FOI website. To start with, we have a blog post describing the importance of volunteers.
The software started life as WhatDoTheyKnow, a website produced by mySociety for making FOI requests in the UK. Its history and background are described over there. The development of Alaveteli is currently managed by Gareth Rees of mySociety.