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/2020/065/IR 
 
 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1982 (Cth) 
 
 

REQUEST BY: 
Mr John Smith 
 
 
               DECISION BY: 
John Reid 
 
 
 
First Assistant Secretary 
 
 
 
Government Division 
 

 
 
Mr John Smith 
By Email: [FOI #6218 email] 
                   
 
Dear Mr Smith  
 
I refer to your email, dated 16 May 2020, seeking internal review of the decision (the 
primary decision), made on 14 May 2020 by Will Story, acting First Assistant Secretary, 
APS Reform, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department), in relation to 
your request, made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) on 12 March 
2020 and revised on 2 April 2020 following a practical refusal consultation process, in the 
following terms: 
 
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. 
 
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. 
 

The primary decision identified three documents in scope of the request (the requested 
documents
) and decided to: 
 
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 



 
  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  conditionally 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. 
 
Under section 54(2) of the FOI Act, an applicant is entitled to apply for an internal review of a 
decision refusing to give access to a document in accordance with a request. 
 
In your request for internal review of the primary decision, you indicated that: 
 
I disagree that the public interest test has not been met. The document should be 
disclosed in spite of it being a 'conditionally exempt document'. 
 
There is a clear and strong public interest in Australians having full view of the 
deliberative inputs that lead to decisions and recommendations. So much the more so, 
when the documents relatie to nation-wide reforms of the public service. It is hard to 
imagine a stronger public interest than full transparency regarding this critical 
reform. 
 
Deliberative process considerations ought to be accorded less weight when the 
decision/recommendation that the deliberative process pertains to, has already 
concluded. It is my understanding that the deliberative process came to an end, with 
the delivery of the 'Independent review of the APS' report. 
 
The assertion that the ability of the Commonwealth to obtain advice from 
consultancies in the future, is not well founded. The Commonwealth would simply be 
able to accept open tenders from consultancies that are willing to have their 
documents subject to the ordinary processes of the FOI act. I am sure that given the 
sums involved, there are many firms that would be willing to provision consultancy 
services of just as good a quality as McKinsey; even if they had to do so under the 
knowledge that their advice may be visible through FOI.  
 
I do argue then that the decision maker's reasons, are not well-founded reasons for the 
decision being against the public interest. 
"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 addition, these reasons that the conditionally exempt release would be against the 
public interest; are prohibited reasons that the decision maker was obligated not to 
take into account. They are reasons that assert a 'loss of confidence in the 
Commonwealth Government', albiet a loss of confidence in the Cth government by 
either McKinsey, or another imagined future consultancy firm. 
 
As the decision maker has included a s11B(4) prohibited reason in their decision to 
withhold release of the documents, I request that the documents be released in full; 
excepting for redactions where necessary to protect the privacy of natural persons 
(where such privacy is in the public interest).
 
 
In a follow-up email you sent to the Department on 18 May 2020, you indicated that: 
 
In furtherance of my argument that the decision should be overturned, I note the 
following: 
 
McKinsey routinely has 'confidential & proprietary documents' returned through FOI 
requests to Commonwealth agencies. This can be seen for example, through the 
outcome of a recent request to the NDIA. The outcome of that request returned a 
large, confidential & proprietary document of McKinsey, with little redaction. (e.g. 
here: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/mckinsey_3#incoming-17295 

 
Other consultancies also frequently have their confidential & proprietary documents 
returned through FOI, especially when those documents regard matters of interest to 
the public. 
 
The argument that full transparency astoward the documents McKinsey supplied to 
the agency for the purpose of the agency's eventual report; would result in a 'chilling 
effect' upon the department's ability to procure consultancy services is therefore 
absurd. 

 
Authorised decision maker 
 
Section 54C(2) of the FOI Act provides that an agency must arrange for a person (other than 
the person who made the original decision) to review the decision. I am authorised to make 
this decision in accordance with arrangements approved by the Department’s Secretary under 
section 23 of the FOI Act. 
 
Internal review decision 
 
As Document 3 was released in full, this internal review request relates to Documents 1 and 2. 
 
I have decided to vary the primary decision in relation to Documents 1 and 2. 
 
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  conditionally 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; and 
  grant access, in part, 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. 
 
Further information is set out in the attached Schedule at Attachment A. 
 
The practical effect of my internal review decision is to release additional information 
contained in Documents 1 and 2, which were previously exempted from release.  
 
The documents being released to you under this internal review decision are attached
 
In reaching my internal review decision, I have had regard to: 
  the terms of your FOI request; 
  the documents relevant to the FOI request; 
  the primary decision; 
  your request for internal review; 
  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 FOI Act’ (the FOI Guidelines). 
 
Reasons 
 
I have carefully reviewed Documents 1 and 2, your submissions in support of your request for 
internal review, and the comments from the third party that was consulted in relation to this 
request. I have decided that parts of Documents 1 and 2 are appropriate for release. 
 
In relation to the remainder of the material within Documents 1 and 2, I am satisfied with the 
primary decision findings and reasons underpinning those findings (namely, that they are 
exempt from release). Accordingly, I adopt and affirm those findings and reasons as my own 
for the purposes of this internal review. I have therefore affirmed the primary decision over 
those parts of Documents 1 and 2.  
 
Further, in your request for internal review, you contended that the primary decision-maker 
had taken into account reasons that were prohibited under section 11B(4) of the FOI Act for 
the purposes of the public interest test, on the basis that they equate to an assertion of “a 'loss 
of confidence in the Commonwealth Government'
”. 
 
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. 
 
I do not agree with your contention, on the basis that the factors against disclosure which were 
considered by the primary decision-maker are of a different nature and do not relate to the 
 



 
argument that “access to the document could result in embarrassment to the Commonwealth 
Government, or cause a loss in confidence in the Commonwealth Government
”. The factors 
considered by the primary decision-maker are the relevant factors from the list set out in 
paragraph 6.22 of the FOI Guidelines, which provides: 
6.22 A non-exhaustive list of factors against disclosure is provided below. 
 
… 
h.  could reasonably be expected to prejudice an agency’s ability to obtain 
confidential information 
i.  could reasonably be expected to prejudice an agency’s ability to obtain similar 
information in the future 
j.  could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive commercial activities of 
an agency 
k.  could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of an individual or group of 
individuals 
… 
 
Accordingly, I am satisfied that the factors against disclosure considered by the primary 
decision-maker are relevant and appropriate, and have adopted those as my own for the 
purposes of this internal review decision. 
 
Publication of the documents 
 
Under section 11C of the FOI Act, the Department will make arrangements to publish the 
documents released to you as part of my internal review decision on the Department’s FOI 
Disclosure Log. 
 
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 your complaint rights 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/. 
 
 
Yours sincerely 
 
 
 
John Reid 
First Assistant Secretary 
Government Division 
15 June 2020 
 



 
 
 
 
                           FOI REQUEST:  FOI/2020/065/IR 
                          SCHEDULE OF DOCUMENTS 

 
 
 
 
 
 
FOI   
 
Document 
Description 
Primary Decision 
Internal Review Decision 

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

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

Independent Review  Release in full – publicly available at 
Not in scope of internal review 
of the APS: 
(https://www.apsreview.gov.au/sites/default/files/resources/aps-
Priorities for 
review-priorities-change.pdf) 
Change report  
 
 
 
 
 
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