Administrative Access Arrangements

Ben Fairless made this Freedom of Information request to Services Australia

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Services Australia did not have the information requested.

Dear Department of Human Services,

Can you please provide a copy of your administrative access arrangements?

Please consider this request administratively if possible. If you can't process it that way consider it a formal FOI request.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Fairless


2 Attachments

Dear Mr Fairless


Please find attached our correspondence regarding your Freedom of
Information request.




FOI Practitioner

FOI and Litigation Branch | Legal Services Division
Department of Human Services

Email: [1][email address]


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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

The agency said that they could not find any relevant documents under the scope described by Mr Fairless and asked him to clarify the scope. Because he did not do this, the request was taken to be withdrawn on 16 March 2017.

Formally, there is nothing wrong with the process of the decision but it is extraordinary. Mr Fairless asks for the agency please to "provide a copy of your administrative access arrangements?" Unless my English is worse than I thought, this very much sounds like "Please send me a copy of any documents that describe your administrative access arrangements". Yet the agency says that they cannot find any documents within the scope of the request. When I consider possible explanations for this, including the possibility that they truly could not understand the request (unplausible), the only explanation I can infer is that the agency does not have any documents that describe an administrative access scheme. How can that be? I have no idea!!

In 2014, in a document called "FOI agency resource 14: Administrative access " ( ), the Information Commissioner described the benefits of having an administrative access scheme to sit beside the formal access that can be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. In the document, the Commissioner says that "Having decided to use administrative access arrangements, an agency should ensure those arrangements involve: a clear description of the types of information or documents that may be accessed through the arrangement". But the agency says that it does not have anything that has a clear description of the administrative access arrangement. Is this because they have administrative access arrangements (in the way the Commissioner has said they should) but they have not described these arrangements, or do they not have the arrangements and this is why that do not have a description.

I do not know the answer. I do know that I searched on Right to Know (according to my ability) and I could not find any case where the Department of Human Services has released documents under an administrative access arrangement. You must make your own conclusion from this.

James Baldwin left an annotation ()

Hi Locutus,

I don't think the department is saying they can't find anything. It looks more like, to me anyway, that they are saying 'which administrative access arrangement do you mean?'

I note the officer says

"I am not able to reasonably identify what documents you want because ‘administrative
access arrangements’ within the department may refer to a number of processes by which
the department releases documents outside the FOI process. It would assist the department
to conduct searches for documents if you were to identify if you are interested in the informal
release of information in a particular programme area. "

It sounds more like there was too much, rather than none at all.