This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'McKinsie final reports since 2013'.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      
 
 
ONE NATIONAL CIRCUIT 
 
BARTON 
     FOI 
 
 
FOI/2019/065 
 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1982 (Cth) 
 
 

REQUEST BY: 
Mr John Smith 
 
 
               DECISION BY: 
Will Story 
 
 
 
First Assistant Secretary 
 
 
 
APS Reform  
 

 
Mr John Smith 
By Email: [FOI #6218 email] 
 
 
Dear Mr Smith  
 
I refer to your email of 12 March 2020 in which you made a request to the Department of the 
Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the 
FOI Act) in the following terms: 
 
I wish to obtain of all documents that meet the following description: 
 
Final reports delivered by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, to the 
department since 18 September 2013. Please narrow this request to documents stored 
in either a word document or PDF format. 
 
All documents stored in a powerpoint document format, given to the department by 
McKinsey; since 18 September 2013. 

On 2 April 2020, the Department issued you with a Practical Refusal Consultation Notice 
(PRCN), on the basis that processing the initial request would substantially and unreasonably 
divert the resources of the Department from its other operations. The PRCN invited you to 
revise the scope of the initial request. On the same day, you responded as follows: 
I agree to narrow my request in the following manner: 
 
Please only return finalised reports & powerpoint presentations from McKinsey that 
are associated with the following commonwealth tender IDs:CN3575896,  

 
CN3586760-A1, CN3586760. Draft/working documents are unnecessary and outside 
the scope of my request. 

Postal Address:  PO Box 6500, CANBERRA ACT 2600 
Telephone: +61 2 6271 5849   Fax: +61 2 6271 5776   www.pmc.gov.au   ABN:  18 108 001 191 

 
Please only include documents that are stored within the department's electronic 
records system, or that are stored as attachments within an SES staff member's email 
inbox.  
 
Identical documents are unnecessary to include in this FOI request; as are any draft 
or interim documents. I am interested in final documents (what is called in the 
consulting jargon a 'deliverable') , and final powerpoint presentations (such as those 
given when pitching for a tender, or at the end of a tender) only. 

 
On 14 April 2020, the Department advised you that the processing period had been extended 
for a further 30 days for the purpose of undertaking a third party consultation, in accordance 
with section 15(6) of the FOI Act. 
 
Authorised decision-maker 
 
I am authorised to make this decision, in accordance with arrangements approved by the 
Department’s Secretary (the Secretary) under section 23 of the FOI Act.  
 
Decision 
 
The Department’s searches of its relevant electronic and paper records identified 
three documents within the scope of the revised request. 
 
I have decided to: 
 
  grant access, in part, to Document 1, on the basis it contains information that is: 
o  exempt from disclosure under sections 45 (confidential information) and 47 of 
the FOI Act (trade secrets or commercially valuable information); and 
o  conditional exempt under sections 47F(1) (personal information) and 47G(1) 
(business information) of the FOI Act, and its disclosure would be contrary to 
the public interest;  
 
  refuse access, in full, to Document 2, on the basis it contains information that is: 
o  exempt from disclosure under sections 45 and 47 of the FOI Act; and 
o  conditionally exempt under sections 47C (deliberative material), 47F(1) and 
47G(1) of the FOI Act, and its disclosure would be contrary to the public 
interest; and 
  
  grant access in full to Document 3, on the basis that it has already been published. 
 
Further information is set out in the schedule at Attachment A.  
 
In making my decision, I have had regard to the following material: 
  the FOI request; 
  the documents identified as relevant to the FOI request; 
  submissions from the third party that was consulted in relation to this request; 
  the FOI Act; and 
  the guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under section 93A 
of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Guidelines). 
 
 

 


 
Reasons for decision 
 
Section 45(1) of the FOI Act provides that a document is an exempt document if its disclosure 
would found an action by a person (other than an agency or the Commonwealth) for breach of 
confidence.  
 
The FOI Guidelines state that the exemption is available where the person who provided the 
confidential information would be able to bring an action under the general law for breach of 
confidence to prevent disclosure, or to seek compensation for loss or damage arising from 
disclosure. 
 
The FOI Guidelines state that in order to found an action for breach of confidence (which 
means section 45 would apply), the following five criteria must be satisfied in relation to the 
information: 
  it must be specifically identified; 
  it must have the necessary quality of confidentiality; 
  it must have been communicated and received on the basis of a mutual understanding 
of confidence; 
  it must have been disclosed or threatened to be disclosed, without authority; and 
  unauthorised disclosure of the information has or will cause detriment. 
 
I consider that parts of Documents 1 and 2 contain information which, if disclosed, would 
found an action for breach of confidence (confidential information).  
 
The confidential information was communicated and received on the basis of a mutual 
understanding of confidence. The requested documents containing that confidential 
information was expressly marked as private and confidential, and/or conveyed to the 
Department in circumstances that were recognised as private and confidential.  
 
Whilst paragraph 5.172 of the FOI Guidelines states that it is uncertain whether detriment 
must be established in order to found an action for breach of confidence, I am satisfied that 
unauthorised disclosure of that confidential information will cause detriment to one or more 
persons and entities. Even if the name and details of those persons or entities were removed 
from the requested documents, the remaining information that is not exempted would result in 
those persons or entities being identified with precision.  
 
On an objective basis, the nature of the contents, the circumstances relating to the creation of 
the requested documents, together with the manner in which the confidential information was 
communicated to the recipients and was received by the Department, all indicate that 
disclosure of certain parts of the requested documents would found an action by the person 
who provided the confidential information for breach of confidence. 
 
Further, the relevant third party submits that some of the material is subject to confidentiality 
obligations to other third parties, and accordingly, any further disclosure would put them in 
breach of their obligations of confidentiality. They also submitted that maintenance of the 
confidentiality of the information entrusted to them is of critical importance to their ability to 
conduct their business, and breach of confidentiality obligations would result not just in legal 
actions but incalculable damage to their reputation. 
 
 


 
I have considered the material in question and the views of the relevant third party, and am 
satisfied that those parts of Documents 1 and 2 that contain confidential information are 
exempt from release, in accordance with section 45 of the FOI Act.   
 
Trade secrets or commercially valuable information (section 47 of the FOI Act) 
 
Section 47(1) of the FOI Act provides that a document is exempt if it contains information 
which, if disclosed, would: 
a)  reveal trade secrets; or 
b)  reveal other information having a commercial value which would be, or could 
reasonably be expected to be, destroyed or diminished if disclosed. 
 
Parts of Documents 1 and 2 contain certain information that I consider would reveal trade 
secrets and/or to hold commercial value.  
 
Paragraph 5.202 of the FOI Guidelines provides that, in order to be exempt under 
section 47(1)(b) of the FOI Act, a document must satisfy two criteria: 
  the document must contain information that has a commercial value either to an 
agency or to another person or body, and 
  the commercial value of the information would be, or could reasonably be expected to 
be, destroyed or diminished if it were disclosed. 
 
Pursuant to section 27 of the FOI Act, the Department consulted the relevant third party in 
relation to this request, for the purpose of seeking their views on whether the documents 
contain their trade secrets and/or commercially valuable information and if so, whether they 
should be exempt from disclosure. 
 
The relevant third party has submitted that the information contained in parts of the 
documents contain their commercially valuable information which: 
  is their proprietary information; 
  comprises the bulk of their intellectual capital, which is the main source of their 
market value; 
  is not in the public domain;  
  was provided to the Department in confidence; and 
  if disclosed, would prejudice their commercial interests, as it would enable their 
competitors to gain insight into their work. 
 
I have reviewed the relevant material and agree with the submissions of the relevant third 
party. Accordingly, I have found that parts of Documents 1 and 2 are exempt from disclosure 
under section 47 of the FOI Act, on the basis that they contain commercially valuable 
information which would be, or could reasonably be expected to be, destroyed or diminished 
if disclosed. 
 
Deliberative material (section 47C of the FOI Act) 
 
Section 47C of the FOI Act provides that: 
 
(1) A document is conditionally exempt if its disclosure under this Act would disclose 
matter (deliberative matter) in the nature of, or relating to, opinion, advice or 
recommendation obtained, prepared or recorded, or consultation or deliberation 
 


 
that has taken place, in the course of, or for the purposes of, the deliberative 
processes involved in the functions of: 
(a)  an agency; or 
(b) a Minister; or 
(c)  the Government of the Commonwealth. 
 
Paragraph 6.59 of the FOI Guidelines provides that: 
 
“'Deliberative process’ generally refers to the process of weighing up or evaluating 
competing arguments or considerations or to thinking processes – the process of 
reflection, for example, upon the wisdom and expediency of a proposal, a particular 
decision or a course of action.” 
 
Document 2 contains material provided by a consulting firm in the course of delivering 
advisory services to the Department. That material includes options, views, analysis and 
recommendations in relation to certain strategic issues that were being considered by the 
Department. To the extent that parts of those documents contain factual information, I 
consider that it is so intertwined with the deliberative matter and cannot be separated. 
 
Accordingly, I consider that Document 2 meets the definition of “deliberative matter” and 
therefore is conditionally exempt from release under section 47C of the FOI Act. 
 
Personal information (section 47F(1) of the FOI Act) 
 
Section 47F(1) of the FOI Act provides that a document is conditionally exempt if its 
disclosure would involve the unreasonable disclosure of personal information about any 
person (including a deceased person). 
 
‘Personal information’ under the FOI Act has the same meaning as in the Privacy Act 1988 
and means 
 
 information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is 
reasonably identifiable: 
                     (a)  whether the information or opinion is true or not; and 
                     (b)  whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or not. 
 
Section 47F(2) of the FOI Act states that in determining whether disclosure of the document 
would involve the unreasonable disclosure of personal information, an agency must have 
regard to the following matters: 
  the extent to which the information is well known; 
  whether the person to whom the information relates is known to be (or to have been) 
associated with the matters dealt with in the document; 
  the availability of the information from publicly accessible sources; and 
  any other matters that the agency or Minister considers relevant. 
 
Paragraph 6.142 of the FOI Guidelines state that key factors for determining whether 
disclosure is unreasonable include: 
  the author of the document is identifiable; 
  the documents contain third party personal information; 
  release of the documents would cause stress on the third party; and 
  no public purpose would be achieved through release. 
 


 
Parts of Documents 1 and 2 contain the personal information of individuals. The relevant 
third party has indicated that they do not agree to the disclosure of the personal information 
contained in the documents.  
 
I have reviewed the personal information, and the views of the relevant third party, and I am 
satisfied that those parts are conditionally exempt from release, under section 47F(1) of the 
FOI Act, as their disclosure would involve the unreasonable disclosure of personal 
information. 
Business information (section 47G(1) of the FOI Act) 
 
Section 47G(1) of the FOI Act conditionally exempts documents where disclosure would 
disclose information concerning a person in respect of his or her business or professional 
affairs, or concerning the business, commercial or financial affairs of an organisation or 
undertaking (business information), where the disclosure of the information: 
  would, or could reasonably be expected to, unreasonably affect the person adversely in 
respect of his or her lawful business or professional affairs or that organisation or 
undertaking in respect of its lawful business, commercial or financial affairs, or 
  could reasonably be expected to prejudice the future supply of information to the 
Commonwealth or an agency for the purpose of the administration of a law of the 
Commonwealth or of a Territory or the administration of matters administered by an 
agency. 
 
Parts of Documents 1 and 2 contain the business information of one or more entities and 
individuals. The relevant third party has indicated that they do not agree to the disclosure of 
the business information contained in the documents.  
 
I have reviewed the parts that contain business information, and the views of the relevant third 
party, and I am satisfied that those parts are conditionally exempt from release, under section 
47G(1) of the FOI Act, as their disclosure would involve the unreasonable disclosure of 
business information. 
 
Public interest 
 
Section 11A(5) provides that an agency must give an applicant access to a conditionally 
exempt document unless its disclosure would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.   
 
In determining whether disclosure would be contrary to the public interest, a decision maker 
is required to balance the public interest factors in favour of disclosure against the factors 
against disclosure.  
 
Section 11B(4) of the FOI Act sets out the following factors that the decision-maker must not 
take into account when deciding whether access to the document would be contrary to the 
public interest: 
  access to the document could result in embarrassment to the Commonwealth 
Government, or cause a loss in confidence in the Commonwealth Government; 
  access to the document could result in any person misinterpreting or misunderstanding 
the document; 
  the author of the documents was (or is) of high seniority in the agency to which the 
request for access to the document was made; or 
  access to the document could result in confusion or unnecessary debate. 
 


 
Public interest factors favouring disclosure 
 
I have considered the following factors favour access to the conditionally exempt information: 
  access would promote the objects of the Act; and 
  access would promote effective oversight of public expenditure. 
 
Public interest factors against disclosure  
 
The FOI Guidelines contain a non-exhaustive list of factors that may apply when considering 
non-disclosure.  
 
In relation to the material that I consider conditionally exempt under section 47C of the FOI 
Act, the factors against disclosure of that material are that, in my view, disclosure would, or 
could reasonably be expected to: 
  restrict the free flow of information between the Department and a consulting firm 
engaged by the Department for sound and effective decision making; 
  inhibit the ability of the Department to receive candid and comprehensive advice and 
information from a consulting firm – thereby diminishing the quality and usefulness of 
the information and advice provided; and 
  curtail the ability of the Department, and the Government more generally, to deliberate 
and consider strategic issues comprehensively, if such deliberations and considerations 
are unable to be conducted within an appropriate environment of confidentiality. 
 
In relation to the material that I consider conditionally exempt under sections 47F(1) and 
47G(1) of the FOI Act, the factors against disclosure of that material are that, in my view, 
disclosure would, or could reasonably be expected to: 
  prejudice the protection of an individual’s right to privacy; 
  harm the business interests of an individual or group of individuals; and 
  prejudice the Department’s ability to obtain confidential information and/or future 
services from commercial firms. 
 
I have not taken any of the irrelevant factors as set out in section 11B(4) of the FOI Act into 
account in making my decision.  
 
After careful consideration of all relevant factors I have decided that the factors in favour of 
disclosure are outweighed by the factors against disclosure. Accordingly, I have found that 
release of the conditionally exempt material contained in the requested documents would, on 
balance, be contrary to the public interest.  
 
Review rights 
 
Information about your rights of review can be found on the website of the Office of the 
Australian Information Commissioner at https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-
information/reviews-and-complaints/. 
 
 
Complaint rights 
 
Information about you complaint rights can be found on the web site of the Office of the 
Australian Information Commissioner at https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-
information/reviews-and-complaints/. 
 
 
 



 
Yours sincerely 
 
 
 
Will Story 
First Assistant Secretary 
APS Reform  
14 May 2020 
 
 



 
 
                           FOI REQUEST:  FOI/2020/065 
                          SCHEDULE OF DOCUMENTS 

 
 
FOI   
 
Document 
Description 
Decision 

Proposal 
Exempt in part under: 
  s45 – confidential information 
  s47 – commercially valuable information  
  s47F(1) – personal information  
  s47G(1) – business information 

Powerpoint presentation 
Exempt in full under: 
  s45 – confidential information 
  s47 – commercially valuable information  
  s47C – deliberative material  
  s47F(1) – personal information 
  s47G(1) – business information 

Independent Review of the APS: Priorities for 
Release in full – publicly available at 
Change report  
(https://www.apsreview.gov.au/sites/default/files/resources/aps-review-
 
priorities-change.pdf) 
 
 
 
Postal Address:  PO Box 6500, CANBERRA ACT 2600 
Telephone: +61 2 6271 5849   Fax: +61 2 6271 5776   www.pmc.gov.au   ABN:  18 108 001 191