APP 12 Privacy Act Applications

Verity Pane made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Veterans' Affairs

The request was successful.

From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

I request under FOI the following documents (s 17 compilation if necessary).

The time period for the scope of my FOI is FY16/17.

The subject matter for the scope of my FOI is all APP 12 Privacy Act access applications made to the DVA (which I understand are all handled centrally by the Information Law
Legal Services & Assurance Branch of DVA).

I request to be complied under s 17 (unless existing document exists that provides the information sought), for the above scope, the following:
* the number of APP 12 applications received (broken down by month in FY16/17);
* for each APP 12 application received during FY16/17, the number of days that elapsed before Defence gave an APP 12 decision (from the day following the date the APP 12 access application was made); and
* the number of APP 12 access decisions refused in full, provided in part, or provided in full (from those received in FY16/17)

This information is not too dissimilar from that required to be provided by DVA in respect of FOI applications, and reported to the OAIC, so it’s possible a document that provides this information already is held by DVA, but in case it’s not, s 17 does apply.

Prior to any possible consultation, I require DVA to have conducted a proper sampling to establish a baseline estimate of processing time as specified by para 3.106 of the s 93A FOI Australian Information Commissioner Guidelines to agencies.

Consideration should be given by DVA to publish privacy statistics publicly anyway, in greater detail than the very brief mentions in past Annual Reporte, to benchmark its performance here (as I believe ANAO recently recommended).

Yours faithfully,

Verity Pane

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From: FOI
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Dear Verity Pane

I refer to your request for access to documents relating to APP 12 Privacy Act access applications made to the DVA under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).

We received your request on 7 November 2017 and the 30 day statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after that date. You should therefore expect a decision by 7 December 2017. The period of 30 days may be extended if we need to consult third parties, impose a charge or for other reasons. We will advise you if this happens.

We will contact you using the email address you have provided. Please advise if you would prefer us to use an alternative means of contact.

I note that the second dot point of your request seeks "... the number of days that elapsed before Defence gave an APP 12 decision ...". Please advise whether you intended to request the "number of days that elapsed before the DVA gave an APP 12 decision".

If you have any questions, please contact me using the following details:

Post: GPO Box 9998 CANBERRA ACT 2601
Email: [DVA request email]

Kind regards

Vicki Guthrie
Assistant Director
Information Law
Legal Services & Assurance Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs | www.dva.gov.au

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Vicki,

Thank you for acknowledging this FOI before the expiry of the 14 day period as mandated by the Act.

While it may be just template text, given the ludicrous behaviour of DVA on a recent FOI, this likely needs stating now.

As you should be aware third party consultation (which does not include public servants of the agency, as they are not third parties) can only can apply where documents subject to a request affect Commonwealth-State relations (s 26A) or Norfolk Island intergovernmental relations (s 26AA), are business documents (s 27) or are documents affecting another person’s privacy (s 27A), and the third party is external to the agency.

The document, or compiled document under s 17, sought is aggregate data, to which neither ss 26A, 26AA, 27, or 27A can apply. Therefore no “consultation” period can apply, and response remains required within the 30 day statutory period. Consent will not be given to an s 15AA extension application, nor is this FOI one that is complex or voluminous (therefore s 15AB applications to the OAIC are also inappropriate).

To make it simpler, rather than calculate the days elapsed since DVA received a APP 12 document/s access request and the date DVA gives an APP 12 decision, just provide for a list complied under s 17 (if not already in an existing document) the date each APP 12 application was received, and the date it received an APP 12 access decision (on the same line, for each seperate APP 12 application), for the time period in question. I can calculate the time elapsed myself.

I understand the number of APP 12 applications received by DVA for the time period in question is fairly small (most access requests received administratively or via FOI or under the MRCA/SCRA Act), therefore the time involved in processing this request is minimal.

The information will be used to assess DVA’s information access processing under the Privacy Act, for inclusion in a paper as part of a wider study.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Vicki,

Further on your consultation comment, I would draw your attention to the Commissioner’s (Pilgrim’s) ruling in ‘FX’ and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet [2015] AICmr 39 (5 June 2015) [at 33]:

PM&C contends that there is nothing in the FOI Act that expressly limits the type or extent of the consultation it chooses to undertake. However, it is implicit in the objectives of the FOI Act (s 3(4)) that an agency will process a request efficiently. Section 3(4) expressly provides that Parliament intends that the functions and powers given by the FOI Act are to be performed and exercised, as far as possible, to facilitate and promote public access to information promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost. Where an agency extends consultation beyond that required by the FOI Act, it increases the processing cost and time.

The seems, of late. to be a substantive abuse of consulting EOTs, far beyond that provided for by the Act, across certain agencies at the moment. It is rather appalling.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: FOI
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Dear Verity Pane

I acknowledge receipt of your emails dated 21 and 22 November 2017. Having considered the terms of your FOI request, the Department has decided that external consultation will not be required. I expect that the decision in response to your FOI request will be provided to you on or before the due date of 7 December 2017.

Kind regards

Vicki

Vicki Guthrie
Assistant Director
Information Law
Legal Services & Assurance Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs | www.dva.gov.au

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Vicki,

Thank you, I appreciate that advice.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: FOI
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment 17 12 05 document for release.pdf
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Attachment 17 12 05 FOI decision.pdf
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Dear Verity Pane

Please find attached a decision in respect of your FOI request and one document released in accordance with the decision.

Kind regards

Vicki Guthrie
Assistant Director
Information Law
Legal Services & Assurance Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs | www.dva.gov.au

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Vicki,

Thank you for your decision.

This was not part of the original scope of my FOI, but would it be possible to get the number of pages of documents that came into scope and were reviewed, for each of the APP 12 applications (it would be good to have some understanding of how voluminous each of the APP 12 applications were, to give context to the time taken).

The number of pages reviewed by the delegate for each APP 12 applications cited would be suitable. DVA could provide this administratively, but can put formally in FOI if preferred.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Vicki,

I have yet to receive a response in relation to my query of 5 December 2017. Could you kindly respond.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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