The Welsh Government and Nottingham City Council have signed undertakings to speed up their response times to freedom of information (FoI) requests, following a monitoring exercise by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

Furthermore, the ICO found that Kent County Council, Cornwall Council, North Somerset Council and East Lancashire NHS Trust had failed to reach the target for responding to FoI requests within the 20 working days time limit. These public authorities have also committed to improving their performance in this area.

Nineteen public authorities were monitored as part of the ICO's last monitoring exercise between 1 April and 30 June 2011.

These included the Department for Education, City of London Police, Surrey Police and London Borough of Southwark, which made it through the exercise successfully.

The ICO is likely to contact authorities for monitoring it if receives more than six complaints about FoI response delays within a six-month period, or if an authority appears to have exceeded the time for compliance by a significant margin on one or more occasions. The ICO will also take action if authorities are responding to less than 85 percent of requests outside the mandatory timescale.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Cabinet Office have revealed improvements in their FoI response times.

The two central government departments made a commitment to improve their response times in June 2011, after a previous ICO monitoring exercise found that they were consistently failing to meet the required standard.

They now answer more than 85 percent of information requests within the 20 working days time limit, and the ICO said the MoD and Cabinet Office are now "working hard" to deal with delayed, outstanding requests.

"Responding promptly to freedom of information requests is important for maintaining public confidence and achieving greater transparency.

"While both the MoD and the Cabinet Office have put a good deal of effort into making significant improvements to their FoI handling processes, it is vital that these improvements are sustained," said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham.