Skip to main content

IT Helpdesk queries (2016)


Please provide me with the following information:

1.  The summaries of all IT/technical support helpdesk requests made by Members of Parliament to the Parliamentary IT Services within the last 12 months. These may be anonymised if necessary.
2.  The case notes of the above requests. Again, these may be anonymised if necessary.



Please supply the summaries of all IT/technical support helpdesk requests made by Members of Parliament to the parliamentary IT services within the last 12 months

Some information is held by the House of Commons. Whilst Members of Parliament (MPs) do make calls to the Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) Helpdesk, many requests are also made by their staff, and those staff do not always indicate that they are calling on the MP’s behalf.

Service requests made in the last 12 months

Please supply the case notes of the above requests.

This information is held by the House of Commons. However, while this information is held in our IT helpdesk logging database, case notes are not routinely reported on as the House has no business need for such a report. To create the report required to comply with your request, we would be required to make technical changes to the database and server. To protect our systems the House has strict procedures for applying any technical changes and a number of processes need to be completed before this is agreed, including producing a request for change proposal, the review of the proposal by a Board and running testing for the changes to ensure no damage is done to other systems. Once work is approved and the changes have been made, the programme would need to be run outside normal working hours to ensure system safety. Once the programme was run a manual exercise would be required to match data to the summary of the service request.

Your request is refused under section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The House of Commons considers that this is a vexatious request for the following reasons:

  1. The disproportionate burden to the authority. Case notes are entered in to the PDS database for the purpose of managing the resolution of the requests. PDS do not produce reports of these case notes and the process to retrieve this information, described above, is clearly complex and burdensome. It is estimated that for each of the 6,291 service requests listed in the spreadsheet there are approximately six pages of information, which is a huge amount of data to process. Time and staff costs, including those of the Board, have also been factored into this decision. For these reasons, we consider that we would have to expend a disproportionate amount of resources in order to meet your request.
  2. The limited value of the material requested. As we have previously stated, the information we have managed to identify as in scope is incomplete. In addition, case notes tend to record very basic and low-level administrative information, such as when desk visits have been scheduled and when follow-up calls have been made. Whilst a formal public interest test is not required for this refusal, it may help you to know that in the course of our deliberations we have also considered the public interest with regard to this material, and have concluded that the case notes of calls to the PDS Helpdesk would have little or no value, particularly when consideration is made of the resources and effort needed to retrieve them.

Whilst the FOIA is applicant blind and public authorities cannot insist on knowing why an applicant wants information before dealing with a request, the House is prepared to review our refusal by taking into account the wider context in which your request is made. For this specific request, if you wish to volunteer any evidence about the purpose behind your request, this may allow us to reconsider our decision, although we cannot guarantee we will release any further information.

It may help you to read the ICO’s guidance on vexatious requests.