Contracted Medical Advisors

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

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department of Veterans' Affairs should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Attn Department of Veterans' Affairs,

Under s 17 of the FOI Act, I apply for a compiled document from your financial management information system and human resource management information system (if necessary) data holdings, of all payments made by DVA to contracted medical advisors over FY17/18, listed by each contract medical advisor (detailing total money paid and the total number of hours it related to).

If the contracted medical advisor was paid personally rather than through their corporate entity, a pseudonym made be used if you wish.

I understand from information provided to me by the DVA whistleblower that senior DVA executives appoint these very lucrative and extremely expensive contract medical advisor gigs, as a form of discretionary largesse and quid quo pro arrangements, instead of using internal resources and developing the skill sets of appropriate internal staff.

Like DVA’s excessive overuse of external legal service providers for very low level things like basic statutory interpretation, but really to derive a personal benefit from, it has been disclosed that other senior executives use the appointment of contracted medical advisors in much the same way, to pork barrel for themselves through the ‘I scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine...’ system of patronage that seems endemic at DVA.

So no doubt you’ll use your best efforts to prevent this valid FOI, but then you’ll prove there is something to be found here in doing so - so either way, I’ll have my answer.

Verity Pane

Link to this

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment image001.png
15K Download


Dear Verity Pane,

 

Acknowledgement of FOI Request – FOI 25057

 

I refer to your request to access information held by our Department under
the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).  The Department received
your request on 12 October 2018. In accordance with section 15(5)(b) of
the FOI Act, the Department has 30 days to process your request. As such,
a decision on your request is due by 12 November 2018.

 

If you have any questions about your FOI matter, please contact us using
the following details:

 

Post: Legal Services & Assurance, Department of Veterans’ Affairs

GPO Box 9998, Canberra ACT 2601

Facsimile: (02) 6289 6337

Email: [1][email address]

 

In all communications please quote reference FOI 25057.

 

Kind Regards,

 

 

Information Law | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

GPO Box 9998 Canberra ACT 2601

E: [2][email address]

 

 

[3]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment image001.png
15K Download

Attachment FOI 25057 s24AB Consultation notice.pdf
524K Download View as HTML


Dear Verity Pane

 

FOI 25057 – Request consultation notice

 

Please find attached a consultation notice in relation to your freedom of
information request received by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 12
October 2018.

 

Kind regards

 

Position Number 62212962

Legal Officer

Information Law Section | Legal Services & General Counsel Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Attn INFORMATION.LAW,

Surprise, surprise another bad faith DVA stalling tactic to yet again stop the s 15(5)(b) clock in the most unethical and obvious fashion possible.

The term Contracted Medical Adviser (CMA) has a very specific meaning in DVA, distinct from Local Medical Officers (LMOs) and other health care providers which you have referred to, especially given DVA does not contract directly with these providers to provide services to it (as you are well aware).

CMAs (or DMOs, when DVA employ them as employees rather than contractors) are only used by DVA’s Rehabilitation & Compensation area, and whose duties are to contradict the medical reports of medical professionals who have actually seen the veteran, along with other associated duties.

They provide no health care to veterans, as you well know, performing only opinion reports to DVA. They don’t see any veterans, they either work in a DVA office or remotely at their own premises, and they get paid exceedingly well and truly above the rates DVA paid to those who actually provide medical services to veterans (especially given those medical professionals have had their rates frozen by DVA for the last couple of years).

So stop playing games - the term CMA has an explicit meaning in DVA and only applies to those DVA has contracted as a Medical Adviser to provide opinions to the Rehabilitation & Compensation area.

Have you heard of this thing called professionalism? It involves this thing called ethics and honesty - I know these are alien concepts for you, but you should give it a try some time.

Ms Pane

Link to this

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment image001.png
15K Download


Dear Verity Pane

 

Following further consultation with the relevant line area, I have been
advised that they will require more time to collate the data for the part
of your request for “…detailing the total number of hours payments relate
to…”

 

However, the line area has provided the Information Law section with a
document without the number of hours in it which is ready to be processed
under the FOI Act.

 

Noting a decision is due to you by 13 November 2018, the Department would
like to know if you would consider removing “…detailing the total number
of hours payments relate to…” from your request and receiving a decision
by the original due date. If not, the Department would like to seek a 14
day extension of time to process your request.

 

The Department would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & General Counsel Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment image001.png
15K Download


Dear Verity Pane

 

Following from our previous email, I am writing to advise you that we have
approached the Office of the Australian Commissioner for an extension of
time to process your request under section 15AB of the Freedom of
Information Act 1982.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Sent: Friday, 9 November 2018 5:23 PM
To: '[FOI #4877 email]'
<[FOI #4877 email]>
Subject: FOI 25057 - Communication - Your FOI request [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

 

Dear Verity Pane

 

Following further consultation with the relevant line area, I have been
advised that they will require more time to collate the data for the part
of your request for “…detailing the total number of hours payments relate
to…”

 

However, the line area has provided the Information Law section with a
document without the number of hours in it which is ready to be processed
under the FOI Act.

 

Noting a decision is due to you by 13 November 2018, the Department would
like to know if you would consider removing “…detailing the total number
of hours payments relate to…” from your request and receiving a decision
by the original due date. If not, the Department would like to seek a 14
day extension of time to process your request.

 

The Department would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & General Counsel Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [3][email address]

 

[4]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment image001.png
15K Download

Attachment FOI 25057 Statement of Reasons.pdf
493K Download View as HTML


Dear Verity Pane

 

FOI 25057 - Decision and Statement of Reasons

 

Please find attached the decision in relation to your freedom of
information request received by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 12
October 2018.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Vivian Yue


Attachment image001.jpg
2K Download

Attachment image002.png
0K Download

Attachment image003.png
0K Download

Attachment image004.png
0K Download

Attachment image005.png
0K Download


OAIC reference: RQ18/03263

Department reference: 25057

 

Ms Verity Pane

By email: [1][FOI #4877 email]

 

Extension of time request by Department of Veterans’ Affairs

 

Dear Ms Pane

 

I write to advise that on 12 November 2018 the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner (the OAIC) received a request from the Department
of Veterans’ Affairs (the Department) for an extension of time to process
your freedom of information request.

 

The Department has applied for an extension of time under s 15AB of the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) because it may be unable to finalise
your request within the initial decision period.

 

The Department has advised the OAIC that:

 

·         it consulted you in relation to an extension of time under s
15AA of the FOI Act, but a response was not received from you

·         during the formal request consultation process under s 24AB of
the FOI Act,  your revised the scope of your request on 1 November 2018

·         the request is voluminous as the Department has identified
approximately 30 medical advisors each with different timesheets

·         the request is complex as the Department is not able to easily
create a document from the data held under s 17 of the FOI Act

The Department has requested an extension of 14 days to 27 November 2018
to process your request. I am minded to grant the Department an extension
of time but will take any comments from you into account when deciding the
application.

 

Please respond to this email by close of business 16 November 2018. If I
do not hear from you by this date, I will proceed to make a decision on
the basis of the information provided to me by the Department.

 

You will be notified of the decision once the matter has been finalised.

 

Further information about extension of time requests may be found on our
website at [2]FOI Fact Sheet 16 - Extensions of time.

 

Contact

 

If you have any questions, please contact me on (02) 9284 9797 or via
email [email address]. In all correspondence please include
reference number RQ18/03263.

 

Yours sincerely

Vivian Yue

 

[3]O A I C logo   Vivian Yue  |  Review Officer

Freedom of Information

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |
 [4]oaic.gov.au

+61 2 9284 9797  |  
[5][email address]
[6]Facebook | [7]LinkedIn | [8]Twitter |   [9]Subscribe [10]Subscribe to
icon OAICnet newsletter

 

 

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[FOI #4877 email]
2. https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-infor...
3. https://www.oaic.gov.au/
4. http://www.oaic.gov.au/
5. mailto:[email address]
6. http://www.facebook.com/OAICgov
7. https://www.linkedin.com/company/office-...
8. https://twitter.com/OAICgov
10. https://www.oaic.gov.au/media-and-speech...

Link to this

From: FOIDR


Attachment image001.jpg
2K Download

Attachment image002.png
0K Download

Attachment image003.png
0K Download

Attachment image004.png
0K Download

Attachment image005.png
0K Download


 

OAIC reference: RQ18/03263

Department reference: 25057

 

Dear Ms Pane

 

Further to our correspondence, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has
withdrawn their request for an extension of time to process your freedom
of information request.

 

As such, no action or response is required from you in relation to our
below consultation.

 

If you wish to discuss, please feel free to contact me.

 

Kind regards

 

[1]O A I C logo   Vivian Yue  |  Review Officer

Freedom of Information

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |
 [2]oaic.gov.au

+61 2 9284 9797  |  
[3][email address]
[4]Facebook | [5]LinkedIn | [6]Twitter |   [7]Subscribe [8]Subscribe to
icon OAICnet newsletter

 

 

 

 

From: Vivian Yue
Sent: Tuesday, 13 November 2018 5:26 PM
To: '[FOI #4877 email]'
<[FOI #4877 email]>
Cc: FOIDR <[email address]>
Subject: RQ18/03263 - Extension of time request - Consultation
[SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

 

OAIC reference: RQ18/03263

Department reference: 25057

 

Ms Verity Pane

By email: [9][FOI #4877 email]

 

Extension of time request by Department of Veterans’ Affairs

 

Dear Ms Pane

 

I write to advise that on 12 November 2018 the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner (the OAIC) received a request from the Department
of Veterans’ Affairs (the Department) for an extension of time to process
your freedom of information request.

 

The Department has applied for an extension of time under s 15AB of the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) because it may be unable to finalise
your request within the initial decision period.

 

The Department has advised the OAIC that:

 

·         it consulted you in relation to an extension of time under s
15AA of the FOI Act, but a response was not received from you

·         during the formal request consultation process under s 24AB of
the FOI Act,  your revised the scope of your request on 1 November 2018

·         the request is voluminous as the Department has identified
approximately 30 medical advisors each with different timesheets

·         the request is complex as the Department is not able to easily
create a document from the data held under s 17 of the FOI Act

The Department has requested an extension of 14 days to 27 November 2018
to process your request. I am minded to grant the Department an extension
of time but will take any comments from you into account when deciding the
application.

 

Please respond to this email by close of business 16 November 2018. If I
do not hear from you by this date, I will proceed to make a decision on
the basis of the information provided to me by the Department.

 

You will be notified of the decision once the matter has been finalised.

 

Further information about extension of time requests may be found on our
website at [10]FOI Fact Sheet 16 - Extensions of time.

 

Contact

 

If you have any questions, please contact me on (02) 9284 9797 or via
email [11][email address]. In all correspondence please include
reference number RQ18/03263.

 

Yours sincerely

Vivian Yue

 

[12]O A I C logo   Vivian Yue  |  Review
Officer

Freedom of Information

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW
2001  |  [13]oaic.gov.au

+61 2 9284 9797  |  
[14][email address]
[18]Subscribe [19]Subscribe
[15]Facebook | [16]LinkedIn | [17]Twitter |   icon to OAICnet
newsletter

 

 

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. https://www.oaic.gov.au/
2. http://www.oaic.gov.au/
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.facebook.com/OAICgov
5. https://www.linkedin.com/company/office-...
6. https://twitter.com/OAICgov
8. https://www.oaic.gov.au/media-and-speech...
9. mailto:[FOI #4877 email]
10. https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-infor...
11. mailto:[email address]
12. https://www.oaic.gov.au/
13. http://www.oaic.gov.au/
14. mailto:[email address]
15. http://www.facebook.com/OAICgov
16. https://www.linkedin.com/company/office-...
17. https://twitter.com/OAICgov
19. https://www.oaic.gov.au/media-and-speech...

Link to this

From: Verity Pane

Delivered

To Vivian Yue,

The history of this FOI is as follows, which as per well established gaming of FOIs by DVA, involves multiple delay tactics and overflowing bad faith by them, in abusing every aspect of the FOI Act.

FOI Made 12 Oct 2018 (Due 12 Nov)
Practical Refusal Consultation 30 Oct
Request to Revise Scope 9 Nov
DVA Apply to OAIC for s 15AB 13 Nov
DVA issue refusal SoR 13 Nov
OAIC write 13 Nov - revised scope on 1 Nov

Yet again another last day s 15AB extension application was made, which is absolutely inappropriate, only for DVA to decide not to risk getting knocked back again, and then substituting an access refusal decision instead.

Even DVA’s bad faith games are sloppy.

I write on one particular point though, that you state, which is that a revised scope was agreed to by me on 1 November, which if you look at that post, does not do so at all. Really, DVA just can’t stop it with even the most bald faced lies, and it probably would have been a good idea to actually read the FOI history first before saying so, as it is obviously not true.

Honestly, DVA can say anything, even the most blantantly untrue and the OAIC just laps it up in utter blind loyalty to agencies. No wonder Australia continues to sink in the International Transparency rankings when agencies can just carry on like this.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

Link to this

From: Verity Pane

Delivered

To Information Law Julie,

I see yet again DVA intend to act in utter bad faith and abuse the FOI Act - not that is a surprise to anybody.

So we proceed down the normal path, and I apply for Internal Review (which you will also engage in bad faith over, pushing it to IC Review).

I am somewhat amused you have claimed I amended my scope on 1 November when nothing such was done, and the post for that date contains no such revision. But then DVA has shown it doesn’t let reality interfere with its outrageous lying.

I see yet again DVA have come up with the most outrageous and ridiculous processing estimates, which due to the FOI having been done at the last moment, you can’t do your usual outrageous charges estimate for, so have refused access instead.

Why is it that DVA always uses for its calculations an Executive Level Information Law lawyer for all processing (using the most expensive staff possible) when the preparatory work is well within the APS 3 work classification level? To abuse and distort the calculations of course.

And why is it that DVA say the have to check every timesheet for a whole year, when it is simply a case of dividing the total amount paid to the 20 individuals concerned for that FY, with their contracted rate, which gives the estimated hours total sought - something than would even take the most slowest person no more than a hour to do? Because DVA doesn’t calculate based on lowest cost or most efficient, but deliberately in bad faith uses the most cumbersome and inefficient and costly way it can dream up so as to intently frustrate access unlawfully.

In short, yet another chapter in DVA’s manipulative bad faith fraud, with such estimates bearing no reality to any actual work realistically involved.

However, on a positive note, I note DVA has been dragged kicking and screaming to drop its opaque and unlawful practice of issuing decision notices with position number only, and at least now is adhering to the advice it gave Parliament that is would never issue notices without at least the first name and title of the decision maker (something that DVA has not being doing for a year now, and which the Minister misled Parliament over).

I mean, it’s still in breach s 26(1)(b) and FOI Guideline 3.181, as it does not include the required information to identify the decision maker (without further research), which as per the OAIC ICON circular of 8 June 2018 (which was circulated to agencies including DVA), states “where the decision relates to a document of an agency, the decision notice needs to include the name and designation of the person making the decision, including the decision maker’s first name, surname and title, to clearly explain their authority to make the decision”. But hey, it shows we can bring you closer to where you are legally required to be, albeit kicking and screaming.

Also, just some advice, it’s pretty untidy to make a request for revision in scope just before a weekend, then two days later to make a s 15AB extension to the OAIC before you even provided opportunity for response, then issue a refusal decision on the same day. It makes you look dodgy, which, let’s face it, you don’t need to add to the large tower of proof that you already are.

Despite the large number of lawyers that consist of DVA’s Information Law area, the declining FOI trend (as people just give up in the face of DVA’s outrageous abuses of FOI) which gives you more time on your hands (which you certainly don’t use to search for anything), the quality of your work continues to look like you wrote in on the bus on the way to work. A little professionalism wouldn’t hurt, if only for your own sakes.

Verity Pane

Link to this

From: Vivian Yue

OAIC reference: RQ18/03263
Department reference: 25057

Dear Ms Pane

Thank you for your email. Your clarifications have been noted, and I have added your correspondence to our case file.

Kind regards

Vivian Yue | Review Officer
Freedom of Information
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001 | oaic.gov.au
+61 2 9284 9797 | [email address]

Subscribe to OAICnet newsletter

show quoted sections

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Veterans' Affairs only: