COMCAR trips

Jackson Gothe-Snape made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Finance

The request was refused by Department of Finance.

From: Jackson Gothe-Snape

Delivered

Dear Department of Finance,

This is a request for the purposes of the FOI Act.

Can you please provide records of all bookings of COMCAR since 1 July 2009 in a machine readable format, preferably CSV or XLS, with the following fields:

-Account Name
-City
-Date
-From
-To
-Start time
-Finish time
-Amount

Yours faithfully,

Jackson Gothe-Snape

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From: FOI Requests
Department of Finance


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Thank you for your email to the Freedom of Information section of the
Department of Finance (Finance).  We have received your email and will
endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible.

 

You may view Finance’s Freedom of Information procedures and processes on
[1]http://www.finance.gov.au/foi/foi.html

 

Further information relating to Freedom of Information can be found on the
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s [2]website.

 

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Freedom of Information

Legal Services Branch

Department of Finance

 

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From: FOI Requests
Department of Finance


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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Gothe-Snape,

 

Freedom of Information Request – FOI15/11

Thank you for your email to the Department of Finance (Finance) requesting
access to the following under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI
Act).

 

... records of all bookings of COMCAR since 1 July 2009 in a machine
readable format, preferably CSV or XLS, with the following fields:

·         Account Name

·         City

·         Date

·         From

·         To

·         Start time

·         Finish time

·         Amount

 

The statutory period for processing your request commences from the day
after Finance received your request.  Your request was received by Finance
on 4 February 2015.  The processing period may be extended if we need to
consult third parties, impose a charge or for other reasons.  We will
advise you if this happens.

 

Liability to pay a charge

You will be notified of any charges in relation to your request as soon as
possible, before we process any requested documents or impose a final
charge.

 

Publication

As required by the FOI Act, any documents provided to you under the FOI
Act will be published on our [1]disclosure log, unless an exemption
applies or the documents are characterised as containing personal
information.  Documents will be published within one working day after
they are released to you.

 

Policy to exclude junior departmental officer contact details

Finance has adopted a policy to generally exclude the names and contact
details of junior staff (non-SES officers) from any documents released
under FOI. Finance’s preference is to reach agreement with FOI applicants
to exclude these details from the scope of the request. Where there is no
objection, the names and contact details of junior officers are redacted
under section 22 of the FOI Act, on the basis that these details are
irrelevant to the request. 

 

Please contact the FOI Team on the below contact details if you wish to
discuss your request.

 

Regards,

[2]Department of Finance and Deregulation

FOI Officer

Legal Services Branch

Corporate Services Division

Department of Finance

T: 02 6215 1783 E: [email address]

 

UNCLASSIFIED

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From: FOI Requests
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Attachment FOI115 11 s24AB consultation notice.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon Mr Gothe-Snape,

 

Please see attached correspondence in regards to your FOI request (our
reference number FOI15/11).

 

Regards,

[1]Department of Finance and Deregulation

FOI Officer

Legal Services Branch

Corporate Services Division

Department of Finance

T: 02 6215 1783 E: [email address]

UNCLASSIFIED

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From: Jackson Gothe-Snape

Delivered

Thank for your reply.

Can I please revise my request to the following:

Can you please provide records of all bookings of COMCAR since 1 July 2009 made by Ministers in the government in a machine readable format with the following fields:

-Account Name
-City
-Date
-From
-To
-Start time
-Finish time
-Amount

Ministers of the government are those politicians listed here: https://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/03%20Sena...

Yours sincerely,

Jackson Gothe-Snape

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From: FOI Requests
Department of Finance


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Thank you for your email to the Freedom of Information section of the
Department of Finance (Finance).  We have received your email and will
endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible.

 

You may view Finance’s Freedom of Information procedures and processes on
[1]http://www.finance.gov.au/foi/foi.html

 

Further information relating to Freedom of Information can be found on the
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s [2]website.

 

[3]Signature blocks-blue bar.jpg

Freedom of Information

Legal Services Branch

Department of Finance

 

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1. http://www.finance.gov.au/foi/foi.html
2. http://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-inform...

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From: FOI Requests
Department of Finance


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Attachment FOI15 11 Decision Letter.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon Mr Gothe-Snape,

 

Please find attached, decision letter in regards to your FOI request (our
reference number FOI15/11).

 

Regards,

[1]Department of Finance and Deregulation

FOI Officer

Legal Services Branch

Corporate Services Division

Department of Finance

T: 02 6215 1783 E: [email address]

UNCLASSIFIED

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From: Jackson Gothe-Snape

Delivered

Dear Department of Finance,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Finance's handling of my FOI request 'COMCAR trips'.

REASONABLENESS OF THE REQUEST

I note Ms Moy has refused the request because it would create an "unreasonable diversion of resources."

Section 24AA of the FOI Act allows an agency to refuse a request if it "would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its other operations."

Ms Moy has not stated that this request would substantially divert the resources of the agency.

Given that there is precedent for allowing requests to records of Ministers' COMCAR trips, there is no justification for refusing this request based on its reasonableness.

Precedents for releasing records of COMCAR trips of Ministers are available here: http://www.finance.gov.au/foi/disclosure... and here: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/t...

ESTIMATE OF TIME

If the person conducting Freedom of Information reviews for the Department of Finance concludes that the Ms Moy's refusal is on the grounds that she believes that the request would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its other operations, I submit that the estimate of time has been incorrectly assessed.

First, no count of the number of records covered by the request was communicated during the request consultation process. This is common practice in the request consultation process, even in requests where a s24AA refusal is found to be valid (see Philip Morris Ltd and Department of Health and Ageing [2013] AICmr 49 (22 April 2013)). There is no evidence that the process to estimate the time required for the request has been carried out. Given no estimate of records covered by the requests was provided at any time, it is submitted that the Department failed to take reasonable steps to assist the applicant. Had the Department provided an estimate of the time required at different stages of the request it would have assisted in revising the request to that it could be completed.

Second, the characterisation that the request is "broad" is refuted. The request very specifically identifies the scope of the request and all requested records are retained in a single data source. The format of the records requested is based on the above precedents in an attempt to follow proven FOI procedures.

Third, I submit that search and retrieval time is similar to the precedents listed above. In regards to my request, given the data must be stored in a professional-grade database, only the account names and dates would need to be altered in a query of the kind required in the precedents listed above - a trivial task.

Fourth, I submit that the records, once extracted from the data source, do not require substantial review or additional preparation or examination. I refer to the Department's Resource Management Guide No. 209 that requires records to be "complete, accurate and reliable". I have also requested the data in a machine readable-format, allowing the raw output of the database to be provided if it is more time-effective. I also note that the decision by the Information Commissioner in ‘AP’ and Department of Human Services [2013] that states that "poor record keeping or an inefficient filing system can also not in themselves provide grounds for a claim".

Fifth, I submit that no consultation with external parties is required. This was the primary goal of the revision to the request. The original request may have caught other parties that would have required consultation. However the use of government resources by Parliamentarians does not require consultation under the FOI Act.

Sixth, I submit that Ms Moy is insufficiently qualified to estimate the time required to complete the request, which is better characterised as an everyday database query.

Finally, I submit that the publication of COMCAR trips by Ministers falls directly under the object of the FOI Act of "increasing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the Government’s activities" and the publication of this information would support one of the core functions of the Department of Finance as part of its responsibility over expenditure, financial management and operations of government. The use of government resources by Parliamentarians is core to the Government's activities and the disclosure of these records would encourage more accountability by users of COMCAR. This must be considered when assessing whether the request diverts the resources of the agency.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Jackson Gothe-Snape

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From: FOI Requests
Department of Finance


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Thank you for your email to the Freedom of Information section of the
Department of Finance (Finance).  We have received your email and will
endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible.

 

You may view Finance’s Freedom of Information procedures and processes on
[1]http://www.finance.gov.au/foi/foi.html

 

Further information relating to Freedom of Information can be found on the
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s [2]website.

 

[3]Signature blocks-blue bar.jpg

Freedom of Information

Legal Services Branch

Department of Finance

 

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References

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1. http://www.finance.gov.au/foi/foi.html
2. http://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-inform...

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From: FOI Requests
Department of Finance


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Attachment FOI15 11 Internal Review Decision.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

 

 

Good afternoon Mr Gothe-Snape,

 

Please find attached, a decision in regards to your internal review
request (our reference number FOI15/11).

 

Regards,

[1]Department of Finance and Deregulation

FOI Officer

Legal Services Branch

Corporate Services Division

Department of Finance

T: 02 6215 1783 E: [2][email address]

 

UNCLASSIFIED

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