This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Non-APS Contractors'.

GPO Box 4889, Sydney NSW 2001 
28 August 2020 
Mr John Smith 
C/- Right to Know Website 
Decision regarding your Freedom of Information request – 1-MHO7EZL 
Dear Mr Smith 
I refer to your request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act
received by our office on 30 July 2020.  
I am an officer authorised under section 23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in relation to 
FOI requests. 
On 30 July 2020 you requested access to documents as follows: 
A document that contains a list of all the position/job titles of every non-APS contractor working 
within your department. e.g. a position title may be: 'security guard', or 'consultant', or 'APS3 
FOI officer', etc.  
You may omit repeating a position title when there exist multiple contractors who have that 
position title. Additionally, if it would not be too onerous, please indicate the number of 
contractors that hold each position title. 
If no such document exists please produce a document containing the information under s17. 

I am satisfied that the document sought by you does not exist and the ATO is not able to 
produce the document you have requested, using a computer or other equipment that is 
ordinarily available. 
I have therefore decided to refuse access pursuant to s 24A of the FOI Act. My reasons for 
refusal are below.   
Material taken into account 
I have taken the following material into account in making my decision: 
  the terms of your request; 
  the FOI Act; and  
  the guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under section 93A 

of the FOI Act. 
Reasons for decision 
You have requested a document that contains a list of all the positions or job titles of every 
non-APS contractor working in the ATO. Where no such document exists, you requested that 
a document containing the information you have sought be produced pursuant to section 17 
of the FOI Act.  
Section 24A – Requests may be refused if document cannot be found, do not exist or 
have not been received  

Section 24A of the FOI Act allows that if an agency has taken all reasonable steps to find the 
document and it cannot be found or does not exist, the request for access can be refused. 
The relevant section is as follows: 
Section 24A Document lost or non-existent  
1)  An agency or Minister may refuse a request for access to a document if: 
a.  All reasonable steps have been taken to find the document; and  
b.  The agency or Minister is satisfied that the document: 

i.  is in the agency’s or Minister’s possession but cannot be found; or  
ii.  does not exist. 
Upon receiving your request, I contacted the relevant business lines within the Australian 
Taxation Office (ATO) and had officers from those areas conduct a reasonable search of all 
relevant ATO computer systems or hard copy files that may contain documents within the 
scope of your request. Further information about what constitutes a reasonable search can be 
found in the guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner, under section 93A 
of the FOI Act. 
Following enquiries with the relevant ATO business lines, it was identified that a document 
containing the information you have requested does not exist. Therefore, I must refuse your 
request under s24A of the FOI Act as, the documents do not exist.  
Section 17 – Requests involving use of computers etc.  
Subsection 17(1) of the FOI Act relevantly provides that 
1) Where:  
(a) a request is made; (b) the information in respect of that request is not available in 
discrete form in written documents of the agency; and 
(c) the agency could produce a written document containing the information in discrete 
form by the use of a computer or other equipment ordinarily available to the agency;  

then the agency shall deal with the request as if it were a request for access to a written 
document so produced. 

Subsection 17(2) of the FOI Act states that an agency is not required to comply with subsection 
17(1) if compliance would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency 
from its other operations. 
Specifically, in respect of your request, there is no document in discrete form containing the 
information you require. The ATO cannot produce a written document containing a complete 
list of non-APS contractors working in the ATO by use of a computer or other equipment that 
is ordinarily available. 

While the ATO has a central repository database  that documents all users with access to our 
system, and although we can extract data from this database relatively easily, this information 
will not provide a list of all non-APS contractors working in the ATO, as not all of the contractors 
require systems access to complete their roles. Beyond the data described above, the ATO 
engages externals across numerous business lines, that would not be captured in any central 
repository database from which it can be extrapolated. 
As non-exhaustive examples, various ATO business lines engage legal experts, property 
contractors, independent experts and advisors. These are just a snapshot of examples of 
some of the non-APS contractors that are not captured in any central repository database held 
by the ATO.  
In order to satisfy your request, each and every business line within the ATO would need to 
diverted from their ordinary duties in order to locate and ascertain the number of non-APS 
contractors that they engage. They would then be required to manually provide details of the 
contractors to the FOI officers and this information would need to be collated in order to 
produce a written document.  
As the information is not held in a central repository database and requires a high level of 
manual input and collation there is a real risk that the information produced may not be 
For clarity, we are more easily able to produce numbers for our labour hire cohort as they are 
managed through a bespoke system. This system will not capture all data required for this 
particular enquiry nevertheless, it is my understanding that such information has already been 
made available to you in response to your previous FOI requests.   
Accordingly, I have refused your request for documents under section 24A of the FOI as they 
do not exist.  Additionally, I have also declined to produce a document under section 17 of the 
FOI Act, with reference to the onerous nature of the production of such document, in 
circumstances where the information is not centrally held and would require ATO wide manual 
Your review rights 
If you are dissatisfied with my decision, you may apply for internal review or Information 
Commissioner review of the decision. We encourage you to seek internal review as a first step 
as it may provide a more rapid resolution of your concerns.   
Internal review 
Under section 54 of the FOI Act, you may apply in writing to the ATO for an internal review of 
my decision. The internal review application must be made within 30 days of the date of this 
letter, quoting our reference number at the top of this letter, and be lodged in one of the 
following ways: 
Australian Taxation Office, General Counsel, GPO Box 4889, Sydney 
NSW 2001. 
Where possible please attach reasons why you believe review of the decision is necessary.  
The internal review will be carried out by another officer within 30 days. If you have not been 
informed of the outcome of the review within that time, you may apply to the Australian 
Information Commissioner under section 54L of the FOI Act. 
Australian Information Commissioner review 

Under section 54L of the FOI Act, you may apply to the Australian Information Commissioner 
to review my decision. An application for review by the Australian Information Commissioner 
must be made in writing within 60 days of the date of this letter, and be lodged in one of the 
following ways: 

GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
Visit the OAIC website,
, for more information about Australian 
Information Commissioner review.  
Any complaint about the processing of your FOI request can be forwarded to the OAIC.  The 
complaint needs to be in writing and identify the agency against which the complaint is made.  
There is no particular form required to make a complaint, however using the online form is 

GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
The Information Commissioner can be contacted on 1300 363 992. 
Questions about this decision 
If you wish to discuss this decision, please contact me via email at  
Yours sincerely 
Senior Lawyer 
General Counsel 
Australian Taxation Office