This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Contract & details: CN ID - CN3665818'.


PO Box 7820 Canberra BC ACT 2610                                                                              
  
 
 
17 July 2020 
 
 
 
Our reference:  LEX 55232 
 
Mr John Smith  
 
By email only: [FOI #6372 email] 
 
 
Dear Mr Smith 
 
Freedom of Information Request – Reconsideration of Charges 
I refer to your email dated 17 June 2020, contending that a charge should not be imposed in relation 
to the processing of your request dated 2 June 2020, made under the Freedom of Information Act 
1982
 (FOI Act). Your request was framed in the following terms:  
‘I  wish  to  obtain  a  copy  of  the  contract  between  Services  Australia  and  McKinsey,  in 
association with the tender CN ID: CN3665818 
I also wish to obtain documents (if they exist) explaining the purpose of this tender, and the 
criteria used to award this contract. 
Given the sizeable amount of money assicated with this contract (a contract value exceeding 
an absolutely enormous $17,000,000.00 AUD); I ask that the public interest in transparency 
of this tender be recognised, and that as a consequence the ordinarily applicable FOI fee be 
waived in this instance. 
Please  limit  your  search  to  a  reasonable  search  of  the  department's  electronic  records 
system.’ 
Background 
Services Australia conducted searches of its records and identified two documents (the requested 
documents) 
within the scope of your request. 
On 16 June 2020, Services Australia notified you that in accordance with section 29 of the FOI Act, 
you  were  liable  to  pay  a  charge  for  the  processing  of  your  request  and  that  the  preliminary 
assessment of the charge was $46.67 (preliminary charge).  
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Services Australia 
 


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The preliminary charge was calculated as follows: 
Search and retrieval time: 0.67 hours, at $15.00 per hour: 
$10.00 
Decision-making time (after deduction of 5 hours*): 1.83 hours, at 
$36.67 
$20.00 per hour 
TOTAL 
$46.67 
*The  FOI  Act  provides  that  the  first  five  hours  of  decision-making  time  are  free  of  charge  and  this  is  reflected  in  the 
calculation. 
Reconsideration of the preliminary charge  
On  17  June  2020,  you  responded  to  the  preliminary  charge  notification,  contending  that  the 
preliminary  charge  should  be  reconsidered  (the  reconsideration  request).  Your  reconsideration 
request was made in the following terms: 
Given the large amount of public money associated with this tender, I ask that a public 
interest in the transparency of this matter be recognised; and the ordinarily applicable FOI 
fee be consequently waived in its entirety, on the grounds of a public interest in the proper 
use of public expenditure. 
 
Alternatively, I request that the fee be waived on the ground of financial hardship. 
 
I have now reconsidered the preliminary charge. I have decided to affirm the preliminary charge of 
$46.67 as set out in the table above.  
I am satisfied that the preliminary charge reflects the lowest reasonable cost to provide you with a 
decision  on  access  to  the  requested  documents.  I  have  set  out  my  reasons  for  reaching  this 
decision below. 
What I took into account 
In reaching my decision on the reconsideration of the charge, I took into account:  
  the terms of your request dated 2 June 2020; 
  the preliminary charge dated 16 June 2020;  
  your reconsideration request dated 17 June 2020;  
  the requested documents;  
  relevant case law;  
  the FOI Act;  
  the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982 (the Regulations); and  
  the Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under section 93A of the 
FOI Act (Guidelines).  
 
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Services Australia 
 


PO Box 7820 Canberra BC ACT 2610                                                                              
 
 
Relevant legislation 
 
Subsection 29(4) of the FOI Act provides that, where an applicant has notified an agency that they 
contend that a charge should be reduced or not imposed in relation to a request under the FOI Act, 
then the agency may decide that the charge is to be reduced or not imposed. 
 
Subsection 29(5) of the FOI Act provides that, without limiting the matters that the agency may take 
into account when making a decision about whether to reduce or not impose a processing charge, 
the decision maker must consider: 
 
  whether payment of a charge, or part of it, would cause financial hardship to an applicant; 
and 
 
  whether the giving of access to the document in question is in the general public interest or 
in the interest of a substantial section of the public. 
 
Subsection 29(8) of the FOI Act provides that, if an applicant makes a contention about a charge as 
mentioned in subsection 29(4) and the agency makes a decision to reject the contention in whole or 
part, then the agency must give the applicant written notice of the decision and the reasons for the 
decision. 
 
Reconsideration of the preliminary charge 

In  order  to  complete  a  comprehensive  reconsideration  of  the  preliminary  charges,  I  have 
reconsidered the calculations set out in the preliminary charge and set out my conclusions below. 
Search and Retrieval time 
In response to your request, Services Australia conducted searches of its records for any relevant 
documents. These searches included consultation with the relevant business area within Services 
Australia to: 
  identify the relevant file; 
  search the file to identify all documents that fell within the scope of your request; 
  retrieve the requested documents; and 
  prepare a schedule detailing the requested documents. 
The  preliminary  charge  estimated  the  time  taken  to  search  for  and  retrieve  the  requested 
documents was 0.67 hours. The business area that undertook those duties has advised me that the 
estimated time in the preliminary charges is an accurate estimate of the time taken to complete the 
task. Accordingly, I have decided not to revise the search and retrieval component of the preliminary 
charge.   
Decision-making time 
When  calculating  the  decision-making  component  of  the  preliminary  charge,  I  have  estimated  the 
time required to: 
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  examine relevant pages; 
  undertake a consultation with an interested third party; 
  consider the results of the consultation with the interested third party; 
  where required, make required redactions to the pages for release; and 
  prepare a statement of reasons for decision. 
The  preliminary  charge  included  a  total  6.83  hours  for  decision-making  time.  This  calculation 
included  3  hours  to  prepare  a  statement  of  reasons  for  the  decision.  For  the  purposes  of  your 
reconsideration request, I have formed the view that 3 hours is an accurate estimate required for the 
completion of this task.   
I am also satisfied that the other decision-making components of the preliminary charge accurately 
reflects  the  lowest  reasonable  cost  for  processing  your  request.  In  particular,  I  note  that  the 
preliminary  charge  estimated  five  minutes  per  page  for  the  examination  of  the  document  for 
decision-making purposes and to redact exempted material. 
Given the need to carefully examine the requested documents in light of the consultation with the 
interested  third  party,  I  am  satisfied  that  the  estimates  for  examining  the  relevant  pages  and 
marking  required  redactions  are  an  accurate  reflection  of  the  time  that  would  be  required  to 
undertake those tasks. 
Further,  I  consider  that  2  hours  to  undertake  a  consultation  and  consider  the  response  from  the 
affected third party is a reasonable estimate of the true time that would be taken to undertake these 
tasks.      
In summary, I am satisfied that the preliminary charge set out in the table above accurately reflects 
the lowest reasonable cost for processing your request. 
Reconsideration of the Preliminary Charge – other considerations 
Your reconsideration request also disputed the preliminary charges on financial hardship and public 
interest grounds. My consideration of these matters is set out below. 
Financial Hardship 
Paragraph 29(5)(a) of the FOI Act provides that an agency must take into account whether payment 
of a charge, or part of it, would cause financial hardship to an applicant.  
The Guidelines at 4.77 relevantly provide: 
 
‘An applicant relying on this ground could ordinarily be expected to provide some evidence 
 
of  financial  hardship.  For  example,  the  applicant  may  rely  upon  (and  provide  evidence  of)
 
receipt  of  a  pension  or  income  support  payment;  or  provide  evidence  of  income,  debts  or 
 
assets…’ 
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Services Australia 
 


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You have not provided any evidence to show that payment of the preliminary charge would cause 
you financial hardship, and I have decided not to reduce the preliminary charge on this basis.  
The public interest  
Paragraph 29(5)(b) of the FOI Act provides that an agency must also take into account whether the 
provision  of  access  to  the  requested  documents  is  either  in  the  general  public  interest,  or  in  the 
interest  of  a  substantial  section  of  the  public.  In  other  words,  there  must  be  a  benefit  flowing 
generally  to  the  public  or  a  substantial  section  of  the  public  from  disclosure  of  the  documents  in 
question. This requires me to consider the nature of the documents and the context of their release. 
In MacTiernan and Secretary, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development [2015] AATA 
584, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found that where release is in the general public interest, 
or  in  the  interest  of  at  least  a  substantial  section  of  the  public,  charges  ought  to  be  waived. 
Conversely,  this  decision  also  supports  the  view  that  where  there  is  little  public  interest  in  the 
release of information that is within scope, then it is appropriate for the charges to be affirmed. 
Paragraphs 4.81 and 4.82 of the Guidelines also provide: 
‘An applicant relying on s 29(5)(b) should identify or specify  the ‘general public interest’ or 
the ‘substantial section of the public’ that would benefit from this disclosure. This may require 
consideration both of the content of the documents requested and the context in which their 
public release would occur. Matters to be considered include whether the information in the 
documents  is  already  publicly  available,  the  nature  and  currency  of  the  topic  of  public 
interest to which the documents relate, and the way in which a public benefit may flow from 
the release of the documents (Internal references deleted)… 
 [T]he  applicant  may  be  expected  to  draw  a  link  between  being  granted  access  to  the 
documents  and  a  derivative  benefit  to  either  the  general  public  interest  or  a  substantial 
section of the public.’ 
Paragraph 4.79 of the Guidelines provides:  
This test is different to and to be distinguished from public interest considerations that may 
arise under other provisions of the FOI Act.  
I further note you made the following submission in your reconsideration request: 
Given the large amount of public money associated with this tender, I ask that a public 
interest in the transparency of this matter be recognised; and the ordinarily applicable FOI 
fee be consequently waived in its entirety, on the grounds of a public interest in the proper 
use of public expenditure. 
 
Consideration of the public interest  
 
The primary question is whether a benefit will flow to the public generally or a substantial section of 
the  public  from  disclosure  of  the  information  in  the  documents  in  scope  of  your  request.  This 
requires  me  to  consider  the  nature  of  the  requested  documents  and  the  context  surrounding  its 
potential release. 
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Relevant to this issue, paragraph 4.84 of the Guidelines provides that an agency may consider, ‘… 
whether  the  range  or  volume  of  documents  requested  by  an  applicant  could  be  considered 
reasonably necessary for the purpose of contributing to public discussion or analysis of an issue’. I 
note that the contract management practices and service delivery practices of Services Australia are 
already scrutinised in a number of forums, including parliamentary committees and the media.  
In addition, Services Australia is obliged to comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (the 
CPRs).  The  CPRs  govern  how  Commonwealth  authorities  procure  goods  and  services  to  ensure 
the Government and taxpayers obtain value for money. Among other obligations, the CPRs require 
Commonwealth  authorities  (including  Services  Australia)  to  report  contracts  on  AusTender.  
AusTender  publication  requirements  set  out  in  the  CPRs  are  in  place  to  ensure  the  public  has 
sufficient  oversight  of  government  spending.  Services  Australia  has  complied  with  its  publication 
requirements under the CPRs by reporting the relevant contract on AusTender. 
In light of the above, I consider that the release of the requested documents would not further inform 
the public debate on the contract management practices and service delivery practices of Services 
Australia.  Nor  would  it  provide  any  scrutiny  about  the  services  that  have  been  provided  in 
accordance  with  the  terms  of  the  contract.  Having  considered  these  factors  and  your 
reconsideration request, I am not satisfied that you have provided persuasive reasons in favour of 
waiving the preliminary charge in the public interest.  
Furthermore,  I  do  not  consider  that  release  of  the  requested  documents  would  be  in  the  general 
public interest, or the interest of a substantial portion of the public. Accordingly, I am not satisfied 
that there are sufficient public interest factors in favour of reducing or waiving the charge associated 
with the processing of the requested documents. 
Conclusion 
I  am  satisfied  that  the  preliminary  charge  set  out  above  accurately  reflects  the  lowest  reasonable 
cost for the time that it will take Services Australia to process your request. 
I  am  not  satisfied  that  the  preliminary  charge  should  be  reduced  or  waived  on  the  grounds  of 
financial hardship or that the release of the document would be in the general public interest or in 
the interest of a substantial section of the public. 
I have decided that the preliminary charge of $46.67 is appropriate and reasonable to provide you 
with a decision on access to documents. 
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Required action 
If you would like Services Australia to continue processing your FOI request, please notify Services 
Australia in writing within 30 days of receiving this letter that you: 
a)  agree to pay the charge (deposit or in full); or 
b)  seek review of the charge, being: 
i.  internal review; or 
ii.  external review. 
Alternatively,  you  may  wish  to  withdraw  your  request  for  access  to  documents.  If  you  wish  to 
withdraw your request, please do so in writing to [email address]. 
If we do not hear from you within 30 days we will take your request to be withdrawn.  
Further information on options a) and b) is provided below. 
Please note that the payment of a charge does not guarantee access to documents, in full or in part.  
Option a) - pay the charge 
As the preliminary charge exceeds $25.00 but does not exceed $100.00, you are required to pay 
the charge in full, or a deposit of $20.00 within 30 days of receiving this notice. You may select from 
one of the following payment methods: 
1.  Online  payment  via  Government  EasyPay  –  please  go  to  https://www.ippayments.com.au/
access/index.aspx?a=85987733&dl=legalservices_hpp_purchase  and  enter  the  relevant 
details. You will need your FOI LEX reference number, LEX 55232; or 
2.  Cheque made out to the Collector of Public Monies and posted to Freedom of Information, 
Services Australia, PO BOX 7820, Canberra BC, ACT 2610; or  
3.  Money  order  made  out  to  the  Collector  of  Public  Monies  and  posted  to  Freedom  of 
Information, Services Australia, PO BOX 7820, Canberra BC, ACT 2610. 
If you elect to pay the charge, please email [email address] to advise 
us of your payment. Please quote reference number LEX 55232 in this correspondence.  
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Option b) – seek review 
If you disagree with the decision to impose a charge, or the amount of the charge, you can ask for a 
review. There are two ways you can do this. You can ask for an internal review from within Services 
Australia, or an external review by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. You do 
not  have  to  pay  for  reviews  of  decisions.  See  Attachment  A  for  more  information  about  for  to 
arrange a review.  
Time limits for processing your request  
Section 31 of the FOI Act provides that where a notice is sent to an applicant regarding the payment 
of a charge in respect of a request, the time limit for processing the request is suspended from the 
date the notice is received until either: 
a)  the day following payment of the charge (in full or the required deposit); or: 
b)  if  applicable,  the  day  following  the  notification  to  the  applicant  of  a  decision  not  to 
impose the charge. 
Address for correspondence 
Please send all correspondence regarding your FOI request to me at the following address: 
Freedom of Information 
Services Australia 
PO Box 7820  
CANBERRA ACT 2610 
 
Or by email to [email address].  
Further assistance 
If you have any FOI questions please email [email address]. 
Yours sincerely 
 
Don 
Authorised FOI Decision Maker 
Freedom of Information Team 
Employment Law and Freedom of Information Branch | Legal Services Division 
Services Australia 
 
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Attachment A 
 
INFORMATION ON RIGHTS OF REVIEW 
 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1982 
 
Asking for a full explanation of a Freedom of Information decision 

Before you ask for a formal review of a freedom of information decision, you can contact us to 
discuss your request. We will explain the decision to you. This gives you a chance to correct 
misunderstandings.  
Asking for a formal review of an Freedom of Information decision 
If you still believe a decision is incorrect, the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives you 
the right to apply for a review of the decision. Under sections 54 and 54L of the FOI Act, you can 
apply for a review of an FOI decision by: 
1.  an Internal Review Officer in Services Australia; and/or 
2.  the Australian Information Commissioner. 
Note 1: There are no fees for these reviews. 
Applying for an internal review by an Internal Review Officer 
If you apply for internal review, a different decision maker to the Services Australia delegate who 
made the original decision will carry out the review. The Internal Review Officer will consider all 
aspects of the original decision and decide whether it should change. An application for internal 
review must be: 
  made in writing; 
  made within 30 days of receiving the decision; and 
  sent to the address for correspondence set out above (or be delivered to any Centrelink service 
centre). 
Note 2: You do not need to fill in a form. However, it is a good idea to set out any relevant 
submissions you would like the Internal Review Officer to further consider, and your reasons for 
disagreeing with the decision.  
Applying for external review by the Australian Information Commissioner 
If you do not agree with the original decision or the internal review decision, you can ask the 
Australian Information Commissioner to review the decision.  
If you do not receive a decision from an Internal Review Officer in Services Australia within 30 days 
of applying, you can ask the Australian Information Commissioner for a review of the original FOI 
decision.  
You will have 60 days to apply in writing for a review by the Australian Information Commissioner.  
You can lodge your application
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Services Australia 
 


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Online:  
www.oaic.gov.au   
Post:    
Australian Information Commissioner 
 
 
GPO Box 5218 
SYDNEY NSW 2001  
Email:   
[email address] 
 
Note 3: The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner generally prefers FOI applicants to 
seek internal review before applying for external review by the Australian Information 
Commissioner. 
Important: 
  If you are applying online, the application form the 'Merits Review Form' is available at 
www.oaic.gov.au.  
  If you have one, you should include with your application a copy of Services Australia’s 
decision on your FOI request  
  Include your contact details 
  Set out your reasons for objecting to Services Australia's decision. 
Complaints to the Information Commissioner and Commonwealth Ombudsman  
Information Commissioner 
 
You may complain to the Information Commissioner concerning action taken by an agency in the 
exercise of powers or the performance of functions under the FOI Act, There is no fee for making a 
complaint. A complaint to the Information Commissioner must be made in writing. The Information 
Commissioner's contact details are: 
 
Telephone:      1300 363 992 
Website:          www.oaic.gov.au  
 
Commonwealth Ombudsman 
 
You may also complain to the Ombudsman concerning action taken by an agency in the exercise of 
powers or the performance of functions under the FOI Act. There is no fee for making a complaint. A 
complaint to the Ombudsman may be made in person, by telephone or in writing. The 
Ombudsman's contact details are: 
 
Phone:             1300 362 072 
Website:          www.ombudsman.gov.au 
 
The Commonwealth Ombudsman generally prefers applicants to seek review before complaining 
about a decision. 
 
 
 
 
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