Business case for the Points Based Activation System

Currently waiting for a response from Department of Education, Skills and Employment, they should respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

Dear Department of Education, Skills and Employment,

If possible, please treat this as an informal or administrative request. Otherwise, please treat this as a formal request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

I request copies of the following:
- The business case document(s) (or equivalent) for the Points Based Activation System (https://www.dese.gov.au/new-employment-s...), including any attachments. I request only the final version of the document(s) that were submitted for approval of the proposal.
- Documents constituting a risk register or equivalent documentation describing the risks from the proposal, risk ratings, proposed treatments and mitigations, etc. Where multiple versions of such documents exist (such as drafts) I only request two versions (if they are different):
1. the version current when the proposal was submitted for approval, and
2. the version current on 27 May 2022 at 9am Australia/Melbourne time.
- Documents, including emails, containing the submission of the proposal for consideration and approval.
- Meeting minutes or equivalent that document approval of the proposal.

I request that all documents be provided in electronic form.

I further request that all charges in relation to this request be waived on public interest grounds. The scope and scale of employment support services affects a large proportion of the Australian populace at any one time. The efficient and effective use of public resources to provide employment support services is a matter that should be open to public scrutiny, discussion, command, and review.

Release of these documents will help to reassure the Australian public that the system will not end up being a repeat of the #robodebt debacle. Release will also promote effective oversight of public expenditure by reassuring the public that the process for approving the initiative was conducted with appropriate rigour and diligence.

Yours faithfully,

Justin Warren

DESE - FOI, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

You have contacted the Freedom of Information Team at the Commonwealth
Department of Education, Skills and Employment (the department).  If your
email relates to an Freedom of Information (FOI) application made under
the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act), the department will
respond as soon as possible.

 

This email address is only for applications for access to documents under
the FOI Act.  The department is unable to respond to non-FOI related
enquiries sent to this email address, and accordingly, emails sent to this
email address that are not FOI related will not be responded to or
forwarded. If you have a non-FOI related enquiry for the department, you
can contact the department by using the online enquiry forms at
[1]https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...
or
[2]https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact....

 

Regards,

Freedom of Information Team
Department of Education, Skills and Employment

 

Notice:

The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 488 064 during business hours (8:30am - 5pm Canberra
time) and delete all copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...
2. https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...

DESE - FOI, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Dear Justin

I refer to your request, received by the Department of Education, Skills
and Employment (department) on 28 May 2022, for access under the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to the following:

 

 

- The business case document(s) (or equivalent) for the Points Based Activation
System
([1]https://www.dese.gov.au/new-employment-s...),
including any attachments. I request only the final version of the document(s)
that were submitted for approval of the proposal.

 

- Documents constituting a risk register or equivalent documentation describing
the risks from the proposal, risk ratings, proposed treatments and mitigations,
etc. Where multiple versions of such documents exist (such as drafts) I only
request two versions (if they are different):

 

1. the version current when the proposal was submitted for approval, and 2. the
version current on 27 May 2022 at 9am Australia/Melbourne time.

 

- Documents, including emails, containing the submission of the proposal for
consideration and approval.

 

- Meeting minutes or equivalent that document approval of the proposal.

 

 

Your request was received by the department on 28 May 2022 and the 30 day
statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after
that date. The period of 30 days may be extended if we need to consult
third parties or for other reasons permitted under the FOI Act. We will
advise you if this happens.

 

Interpretation of request

 

The department has understood your request to be for:

 

o “The business case document(s) (or equivalent) for the Points Based
Activation System
([2]https://www.dese.gov.au/new-employment-s...),
including any attachments. I request only the final version of the
document(s) that were submitted for approval of the proposal”. We have
interpreted this as referring to the final version of the document(s),
including any attachments, that the department submitted for the final
approval of the Points Based Activation System as part of the New
Employment Services Model.
o “Documents constituting a risk register or equivalent documentation
describing the risks from the proposal, risk ratings, proposed
treatments and mitigations, etc. Where multiple versions of such
documents exist (such as drafts) I only request two versions (if they
are different): the version current when the proposal was submitted
for approval, and 2. the version current on 27 May 2022 at 9am
Australia/Melbourne time”.
o “Documents, including emails, containing the submission of the
proposal for consideration and approval”. We have interpreted this as
referring to documents, including emails, containing the submission of
the final proposal for approval of the Points Based Activation System
as part of the New Employment Services Model.
o “Meeting minutes or equivalent that document approval of the
proposal”. We have interpreted this as referring to meeting minutes
(or equivalent documents) that document the approval of the
department’s final proposal to proceed with the Points Based
Activation System as part of the New Employment Services Model.

 

If we have misinterpreted your request, please let us know by 14 June
2022. If we do not hear otherwise from you by that date, we will proceed
on the basis that we have correctly interpreted your request.

 

 

Charges

 

The department will advise you if a charge is payable to process your
request and the amount of any such charge as soon as practicable. No
charge is payable for providing a person with their own personal
information.

 

Your address

 

The FOI Act requires that you provide us with an address that we can send
notices to. You have advised your electronic address is
[3][FOI #8955 email]. Unless you tell us
otherwise, we will send all notices and correspondence to this address.

 

Disclosure log

 

Information released under the FOI Act may be published on a disclosure
log on our website, subject to certain exceptions. These exceptions
include where publication of personal, business, professional or
commercial information would be unreasonable.

 

Exclusion of employee details

 

To the extent the department has documents in its possession that fall
within the scope of your request, we will treat the names, signatures,
position titles, staff identification numbers and direct contact details
of Commonwealth employees as irrelevant in accordance with section 22 of
the FOI Act, unless you tell us otherwise by 14 June 2022.

 

Further assistance

 

If you have any questions about your request, please email
[4][email address].

 

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information Team

Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

 

Notice:

The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 488 064 during business hours (8:30am - 5pm Canberra
time) and delete all copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.dese.gov.au/new-employment-s...
2. https://www.dese.gov.au/new-employment-s...
3. mailto:[FOI #8955 email]
4. mailto:[email address]

Dear DESE - FOI,

This is not a valid consultation notice.

s 24AB(2)(c) requires that the name of the contact person is provided for the purposes of consultation or the notice does not satisfy the requirements of s 24AB(2) of the FOI Act (see: Justin Warren and Department of Human Services [2019] AICmr 22).

It is perplexing that the department is seemingly unable to comprehend this most basic and well-travelled portion of the FOI Act. Until I receive further evidence, I shall choose to believe that it is an attempt at levity by an otherwise competent and well-trained member of the FOI staff rather than an indication of incompetence or reflexive secrecy. While I do enjoy a joke, I have heard this one rather too many times and no longer find it as amusing as I once did, alas.

I do not accept that employee details are irrelevant to my request. I direct your attention to the FOI Guidelines at [3.54] which relevantly provides:

"There have been instances of agencies using s 22 to delete the names of government officials below the Senior Executive Service (SES) rank on the basis that those names are irrelevant to the scope of an FOI request. There is no apparent logical basis for treating the names of SES officials as being within the scope of a request, but other officials as being irrelevant to the request. Without further explanation as to why the names of government officials are irrelevant to the scope of an applicant’s request, it is unlikely that the application of s 22 is appropriately justified."

If the department wishes to claim that disclosure of employee details are exempt from disclosure, it bears the onus of proof that such an exemption is justified.

The scope you have identified appears to be accurate based on the information that is publicly available about what the PBAS program is called.

Yours sincerely,

Justin Warren

DESE - FOI, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

You have contacted the Freedom of Information Team at the Commonwealth
Department of Education, Skills and Employment (the department).  If your
email relates to an Freedom of Information (FOI) application made under
the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act), the department will
respond as soon as possible.

 

This email address is only for applications for access to documents under
the FOI Act.  The department is unable to respond to non-FOI related
enquiries sent to this email address, and accordingly, emails sent to this
email address that are not FOI related will not be responded to or
forwarded. If you have a non-FOI related enquiry for the department, you
can contact the department by using the online enquiry forms at
[1]https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...
or
[2]https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact....

 

Regards,

Freedom of Information Team
Department of Education, Skills and Employment

 

Notice:

The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 488 064 during business hours (8:30am - 5pm Canberra
time) and delete all copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...
2. https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...

DESE - FOI, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

1 Attachment

Dear Justin Warren

 

Please see the attached correspondence in relation to your FOI request.

 

 

Yours sincerely

Damon

Freedom of Information Team

Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

 

Notice:

The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 488 064 during business hours (8:30am - 5pm Canberra
time) and delete all copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

Dear DESE - FOI,

I have already requested that all charges in relation to this request be waived on public interest grounds. The scope and scale of employment support services affects a large proportion of the Australian populace at any one time. The efficient and effective use of public resources to provide employment support services is a matter that should be open to public scrutiny, discussion, comment, and review.

Access to the business case justifying the PBAS system is clearly in the general public interest. The issue has received substantial coverage in the national media, including:
- https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-09/w...
- https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-10/c...
- https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-06-19/f...
The program will also affect a substantial section of the public, and it is therefore in their interest that they are able to scrutinise, discuss, comment, and review the business case used to justify the system that will directly affect them.

In order to keep things moving, I am willing to pay the deposit so that processing of my request can continue while the decision to impose a charge is reviewed (see, e.g.: Justin Warren and Department of Human Services (Freedom of information) [2018] AICmr 16, https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewd...). However, I am uncomfortable with the department's data handling practices that require a scanned document containing my credit card information to be stored in their email system as well as any intervening email systems that process the message.

It is disappointing that in the year 2022 the department does not have an online payment system in place for such charges, as many other government departments do. Indeed, even Services Australia managed to stop asking people for posted money orders and moved to an online payments system some years ago.

In 'ND' and Department of Human Services (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 119, then Australian Information Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, found, at [25]:
"Where a charge is justified, it would be in keeping with the objects of the FOI Act to ensure that the method of payment should also facilitate prompt access to the documents."

I will contact you separately to provide a secure document sharing link to a completed form that doesn't place my personal information at quite so substantial risk of a data breach.

Yours sincerely,

Justin Warren

DESE - FOI, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

You have contacted the Freedom of Information Team at the Commonwealth
Department of Education, Skills and Employment (the department).  If your
email relates to an Freedom of Information (FOI) application made under
the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act), the department will
respond as soon as possible.

 

This email address is only for applications for access to documents under
the FOI Act.  The department is unable to respond to non-FOI related
enquiries sent to this email address, and accordingly, emails sent to this
email address that are not FOI related will not be responded to or
forwarded. If you have a non-FOI related enquiry for the department, you
can contact the department by using the online enquiry forms at
[1]https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...
or
[2]https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact....

 

Regards,

Freedom of Information Team
Department of Education, Skills and Employment

 

Notice:

The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 488 064 during business hours (8:30am - 5pm Canberra
time) and delete all copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...
2. https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...

DESE - FOI, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

2 Attachments

Dear Justin

 

Thank you for your email to the Department of Education, Skills and
Employment (the department) regarding your freedom of information (FOI)
request.

 

Review of preliminary assessment of charge

 

On 16 June 2022, the department advised you of the preliminary assessment
of the processing charge for your request.

 

In your email below, you note that you wish to seek internal review of the
department’s decision to impose a charge for your request. Further, in
your email of 28 May 2022 which contained the text of your FOI request
made to the department, you requested that all charges in relation to your
request be waived on public interest grounds. 

 

As noted at paragraph 4.57 of the FOI Guidelines (Guidelines):

 

The preliminary assessment notice [of charge] is not itself a reviewable
decision. To contest the preliminary costs assessment an applicant must,
within 30 days, apply in writing to the agency or minister for the change
to be corrected, reduced or not imposed ((s 29(1)(f)(ii))…the agency or
minister must consider the applicant’s views and notify the applicant
about its final decision on the amount of charge payable within 30 days

 

Further, paragraph 4.58 the Guidelines state:

 

if an agency decides not to exercise its discretion to reduce or not
impose a charge (an access refusal decision under s 53A(e) of the FOI
Act), the applicant may seek review of the decision (but only after
disputing a preliminary estimate of a charge issued under s 29(1) of the
FOI Act) by applying for…internal review by the agency or minister (s 54)

 

The department’s preliminary assessment of charge is not a reviewable
decision and is therefore not subject to internal review. However, given
that you have sought waiver of the charge for your request on public
interest grounds, we have taken your email below to be contesting the
department’s preliminary costs assessment of $370.00 in relation to your
request sent to you on 16 June 2022. As such, the department will send its
charge decision to you within the 30 day timeframe. If we do not hear
otherwise from you by COB 23 June 2022 the department will proceed on the
basis that you are contesting the department’s preliminary assessment to
impose a charge for your request in accordance with section 29(1)(f)(ii)
of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act).

 

Payment of FOI charge/deposit

 

From your email below, it appears you intend to pay the charge deposit. 
Rather than submitting a completed credit card authorisation form through
the Right to Know website, you can email the completed form to
[1][email address].  Alternatively, you can send a cheque or money order
made out to the Collector of Public Monies — Education, Skills and
Employment to:

 

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

GPO Box 9880

Canberra ACT 2601

Australia

 

 

Extension of time

 

In accordance with the FOI Act, the decision on your request is currently
due 11 days after the date you pay the deposit or charge for your request.

 

To date, the department has undertaken significant work in progressing
your request, including consultation with relevant departmental officers,
search and retrieval of documents, confirming the scope of your request
with you, examining each page captured by the scope of your request and
considering the exemptions (if any) applicable to the documents within
scope of your request.  However, the department is required to consult
another Commonwealth Government agency about documents which concern it,
undertake further consultation with relevant departmental officers on
access and prepare a decision on access, which will, for example, involve
further review of the documents and the scheduling of these documents.
Further, key staff in the department relevant to your FOI request are
currently engaged in implementing major machinery of government changes
affecting the department that were announced recently.

 

Accordingly, if you elect to pay the processing charge or charge deposit,
we are seeking your agreement to a 30 day extension of time to process
your request in accordance with section 15AA of the FOI Act. However, we
will endeavour to provide you with a decision on your request as soon as
possible within the extended timeframe.

 

If you agree to an extension of time, we will notify the Office of the
Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) of the extension in accordance
with section 15AA(b) of the FOI Act and will provide your contact details
to the OAIC. If you do not agree to the extension of time, we will seek an
extension directly from the OAIC in accordance with section 15AB of the
FOI Act.

 

We would appreciate your response to this request by COB 23 June 2022. If
we have not heard from you by this time, we will proceed with approaching
OAIC for an extension.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us at [2][email address] if you have any
questions.

 

 

 

Yours sincerely

Freedom of Information Team

Department of Education, Skills and Employment

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear DESE - FOI,

I'm not sure where you got the idea that I was requesting an internal review of the charge. I was, as you have surmised, contesting the charge in writing, as per the requirements of s 29(1)(f)(ii) of the FOI Act.

I am also proposing to pay the deposit, as per [4.10] of the FOI Guidelines which states, in part:
"An applicant may also object to the estimated charge and pay the deposit or full estimated charge to progress a decision on the FOI request while the charge is disputed."

Did you actually read my last correspondence regarding the payment methods the department is using and the information security risks of emailing people's credit card numbers around unencrypted? You may like to refer to PCI DSS v4.0 requirement 4 "Protect Cardholder Data with Strong Cryptography During Transmission Over Open, Public Networks". You may also like to reread the section about money orders in the 21st century and facilitating prompt access to documents.

I agree to the extension of time you have requested. However, I do not expect the full 30 days will be required.

Yours sincerely,

Justin Warren

DESE - FOI, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

You have contacted the Freedom of Information Team at the Commonwealth
Department of Education, Skills and Employment (the department).  If your
email relates to an Freedom of Information (FOI) application made under
the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act), the department will
respond as soon as possible.

 

This email address is only for applications for access to documents under
the FOI Act.  The department is unable to respond to non-FOI related
enquiries sent to this email address, and accordingly, emails sent to this
email address that are not FOI related will not be responded to or
forwarded. If you have a non-FOI related enquiry for the department, you
can contact the department by using the online enquiry forms at
[1]https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...
or
[2]https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact....

 

Regards,

Freedom of Information Team
Department of Education, Skills and Employment

 

Notice:

The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 488 064 during business hours (8:30am - 5pm Canberra
time) and delete all copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...
2. https://www.dese.gov.au/about-us/contact...

Justin Warren left an annotation ()

I emailed DESE with a link to a completed credit card charge form. I'll disable the link once they've got it, or after 7 days at the most.
I almost can't believe they're requiring people to email them a PDF with credit card details including CVV here in 2022 but welcome to government IT I guess.