Copy of the Monthly R&C metrics reports for July 2017 thru to June 2018

Julie 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: Julie

Delivered

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

I thought this best put separately as I understand these are different reports (as this one apparently only deals with caseload, staffing, claims intake and TTTP summary statistics).

The following is an extract of ANAO’s Performance Audit Report entitled “Efficiency of Veterans Service Delivery by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs” published 27 June 2018 and therefore should be quite current:

3.35 Governance and oversight of R&C is the responsibility of a national business manager located in Melbourne. An extensive suite of reports and analysis is prepared on a monthly, weekly and daily basis containing metrics about R&C operations. The reports focus on the caseload, staffing, claims intake and TTTP broken down by locations and individuals. The standard reports also include exception reporting of all cases with a TTTP of 240 days or longer, 365 days or longer and separate reporting of the ‘top 20’ oldest claims. Along with TTTP reporting, the standard suite of reports provide details of quality assurance activities and results.

It therefore is apparent that DVA has produced on a monthly basis a standard report that details the aforementioned summary statistics, along with a list of the top 20 oldest claims still outstanding, as a normal routine managerial report.

I therefore seek copy of each monthly report from July 2017 thru to and including June 2018 under FOI.

While summary statistics contain no personal information, it is possible the ‘Top 20’ list may refer to the individual names of veterans, so consent is given to redact the name of any private individual (as I’m only interested in the time they have been outstanding).

From what I understand, the monthly report doesn’t drill down into details, being a summary report, but if any private individuals’ personal information is contained within them, then this of course may be redacted with consent.

As the aforementioned ANAO report highlighted that despite the number of cases-on-hand / work-in progress files has fallen by 17.9 per cent (2,266) from the start of the 2015 to 2017 period to its end, but the DVA average TTTP (time taken to process) only fell between 3 per cent and 9 per cent across all R&C claim categories in the same period, inferring that DVA is considerably less efficient at processing liability claims than it used to be, it is hoped this information may shed some light on the causes of this loss of efficiency.

Yours faithfully,

Julie

Link to this

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment image001.png
15K Download


Dear Julie,

 

Acknowledgement of FOI Request – FOI 24434

 

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 11 September 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 11 October 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 24434.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Information Law Team

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


Dear Julie,

 

Request for Extension of time under s15AA of the Freedom of Information
Act 1982 (FOI Act)

 

FOI 24434

 

A decision is due on your request by 11 October 2018.

 

Unfortunately, the Department will be unable to finalise your request by
this date due to a large competing case load. While it is our goal to
process your request as soon as practicable, we would be grateful if you
would agree to a 30 day extension of time to process your request under
section 15AA of the FOI Act. If you are agreeable to the extension, the
revised due date for the decision will be 10 November 2018.

 

Please advise whether you agree to the extension of time by 5 October
2018.

 

If you agree to an extension, we will advise the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner (OAIC) of the extension. As part of this, the
Department will provide your name and email address in case the OAIC needs
to contact you in about your FOI request.   

 

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]

 

 

 

Kind regards,

 

Information Law Team

 

Information Law | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Gnabra House – 21 Genge Street Canberra City ACT 2601|GPO Box 9998
Canberra ACT 2601

E: [2][email address]

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Dear INFORMATION.LAW,

I don’t have enough information from what you have provided to assess whether an extension would be reasonable, or even whether the time frame sought is reasonable.

You have basically just inferred you haven’t done any work to date on this FOI, but now realising the due date is coming up, want to treat the FOI as if it was made next week, instead of nearly a month ago.

Whether this is actually true or not, I have no information to determine either way.

I do note that the Information Commissioner has previously determined that if an agency’s mismanagement or failure to adequately resource its FOI functions had caused a delay, the FOI applicant should not be penalised for it (because it’s not their fault).

While I would consider agreeing to a reasonable extension, I have no information before me from DVA to assess what is reasonable in the circumstances (which may be 30 days or something lesser or not at all).

I am also concerned that despite citing a higher FOI workload, it seems that many people are being told they will having ongoing delays to their FOI by DVA at the moment, so it is unclear what DVA is actually working on right now that is causing these delays (especially if everyone is getting these delay notices).

So, as I do not want to treat you unfairly by just making a decision on very limited information from you, can you please advise the following before Oct 3:
* What work to date has already taken place on this FOI?
* What timetable of steps can DVA outline for this FOI if the extension is granted (maybe I can save you some time by letting you know what’s not necessary)?
* Will DVA agree not to make any charges notices or not to refuse to release anything, if the extension is agreed (there is not much point giving extra time if you have no intent to provide access)?
* Can you provide some transparency about this higher workload? Is it due to more FOIs, or higher priority FOIs, or staff absences or some other factor (and was there a reason DVA did not foresee it)?

I look forward to your response, which will hopefully provide the missing detail necessary to make an informed and fair decision on your application.

Yours sincerely,

Julie

Link to this

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Good morning Julie,

Thank you for your replies.

The Department has undertaken steps to process your request, including search requests to identify the documents you have sought access to. The Information Law Section is following up the results of those searches. We are unable to provide you with a timetable as such, but can advise that once the documents are identified and received, this section will need to review the material (and consider if a document can or needs to be created as noted in your request), and then ultimately make a decision on your request. As the documents have not yet been received by this section, we cannot advise at this stage how voluminous it may be. The Department is unable to agree that a charges notice will not be applied nor can we provide an undertaking that full access will provided in lieu of you agreeing to an extension of time.

Although we have asked for an extension of 30 days, we would welcome any extension you are agreeable with.

Kind Regards,
 
Information Law Team
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
E: [email address] | W: www.dva.gov.au

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Dear INFORMATION.LAW,

So, to summarise your carbon copy response (which is the same response given to all the FOIs of mine you have delayed, despite them being on very different topics and even different in scope capture):

^ Despite, according to Prime Minister and Cabinet guidelines someone else posted here on Right to Know, agencies commit no more than 2 calendar days to the conducting searches phases (and then only up to a maximum of one hour of staff time), the DVA has only just started this step and has yet to complete it (I note the DVA did not state when it first conducted these searches, nor state when they would be completed, despite the DVA being aware there is a hard limit on the time the DVA will conduct such searches);

^ Despite that the DVA has not completed any steps, even though the 30 day s 15(5)(b) deadline has almost expired, the DVA has not and will not commit nor consider what time it will commit to completing all the FOI steps by (which is concerning given the DVA has hard limits as to how much time it will spend on any FOI step, and should be planning and managing FOIs, not asserting that they are treated as hoc by the DVA’s specialised FOI staff);

The DVA may cause further delay by issuing a very late practical refusal, or very late charges notice, or very late intent to refuse access decision, all which will extend this FOI by months (possibly years if it goes to IC Review.

It is concerning that, having failed to substantiate any reasonable grounds for the initial failure to handle this FOI in accordance with the statutory obligations, that the DVA has just sat on the FOI for the vast majority of the s 15(5)(b) statutory period, to create delay. That is inconsistent with the aims and objects of the Freedom of Information Act.

It is also concerning that the 30 day extension sought, was not based on any reasonable need assessment, but rather to just claim the maximum extension possible (again inconsistent with the aims and objects of the Act).

You have not provided me with any substantive evidence that would justify that they delays caused were due to factors outside your control, to support extension. There is a worrying lack of transparency here, especially when the DVA has sought extensions to all my FOIs, regardless of simplicity or narrowness of scope.

I do note however that there remains another 7 business days before the s 15(5)(b) statutory deadline expires and that according to the Prime Minister and Cabinet guidance, this is ample time to complete a number of steps (including assessment).

If the DVA can update me on the progress it has made by COB Tuesday 9 October 2018, and if there has been substantive progress made, I will consider an extension at that time.

It is still something of a concern however, that the DVA is processing FOIs in an ad hoc haphazard way (which is the most generous and positive interpretation you can put on in), instead of planning and managing them professionally and competently in line with the aims, objects and purposes of the FOI Act and the various directives and guidelines that apply.

Yours sincerely,

Julie

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

Attachment Extension of time decision Letter to Julie.pdf
214K Download View as HTML


Our reference: RQ18/02960

Agency reference: FOI 24434

 

Julie

Sent by email: [FOI #4798 email]

 

Extension of time under s 15AB

 

Dear Julie

 

Please find correspondence in relation to the processing of your FOI
request attached.

 

Yours sincrely

[1]cid:image001.jpg@01D446AF.83C3DEE0   Carl English  |  Assistant Review Officer

Freedom of Information Dispute Resolution

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

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

+61 2 9284 9745  |  +61 412 345 678  | 
[3][email address]
[8]Subscribe
[4]cid:image002.png@01D446AF.83C3DEE0 | [5]cid:image003.png@01D446AF.83C3DEE0 | [6]cid:image004.png@01D446AF.83C3DEE0 |   [7]cid:image005.png@01D446AF.83C3DEE0 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...

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Mr Carl English (OAIC),

I note your template extension approval letter, granted despite not having giving me the opportunity to be heard before you made your decison.

I am concerned that despite no complexity or voluminous nature to this FOI, an extension has been granted instead because DVA had ‘a busy caseload’ which is not a s 15AB ground.

This appears to therefore be an abuse of s 15AB.

A scan of Right to Know FOIs made to DVA for which you have subsequently and always approved the granting of a s 15AB extension to, demonstrates such grants of an extension of time has not delivered a well-reasoned or better managed decision by DVA, but resulted in further delays or refusals or late notice charges.

Such a fact would have been a relevant consideration you should have taken into account before such a decision was made. Your anticipation therefore seems deeply flawed, and without reasonable basis, based on the evidence.

I note someone else here on Right to Know requested and received the s 15AB application the OAIC processed. I would like that to, to better understand what looks to be an improper decision.

Julie

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Dear INFORMATION.LAW,

I consider the DVA applying for s 15AB extension, without giving notice to me that it had, rather rude and opaque.

I consider that the DVA’s failure to be honest and open and transparent about where this FOI is at, what steps have already taken place and when it will be decided (and even if further roadblocks will be thrown up by DVA), to be unethical and improper.

When people told me DVA had a terrible reputation for abusing the FOI Act, I felt they were just overstating things, as the Public Service Act requires every public servant to behave in an ethical and honest manner, but now I can see I was wrong and they were right.

I honestly don’t understand your agency’s hostility and lack of ethical conduct, and while I reflect that this perverse concerning culture at the DVA may be far broader than just this poor conduct with FOI, I have to wonder what sort of governance risks this culture creates for the public, because the stewardship at DVA is obviously not well.

Yours sincerely,

Julie

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Carl English (OAIC)

If you could explain how 1 copy of the 12 pre-existing summary reports sought (each of only a few pages) is complex and/or voluminous, I would be grateful.

This is just for copies of summary monthly reports that DVA produces for its senior management, for one financial year only. As I understand it, each report is less than 5 pages, meaning a maximum of 60 pages to be reviewed, for documents created within the last financial year.

There is no evidence that any complexity or voluminous relates to the pre-existing documents in scope of this FOI.

Julie

Link to this

From: FOIDR


Attachment 20181011145252663.pdf
228K Download View as HTML


Dear Julie

Thank you for your emails.

I have attached a copy of the extension of time application.

The OAIC will usually only consult an applicant if the agency has asked for a particularly long extension, or if it has already applied to the OAIC for other extensions in relation to your request.

Although, I appreciate you would have liked to have been consulted, we decided that it was unnecessary in the circumstances because 14 days was not a particularly long extension and because the Department had not previously sought an extension of time from the OAIC.

If you would like to discuss this matter further I can be contacted on 02 9284 9745.

Kind regards

Carl English | Assistant Review Officer
Freedom of Information Dispute Resolution
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001 | oaic.gov.au
+61 2 9284 9745 | +61 412 345 678 | [email address]

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Carl English (OAIC),

The DVA appears to be routinely asking, and always receiving, s 15AB extensions from the you at the OAIC, under equally questionable circumstances, so that claim is untenable.

I am not aware of the common law right to be heard before a decision impacting on their statutory entitlements is made by a delegate, as being waived under a certain time threshold - as I understand it, it is a universal right recognised widely in administrative law, with failure to abide seeing delegates stray into unreasonable behaviour and a breach of administrative justice principles. Just because it is common law (like Legal Professional Privilege) doesn’t mean it can be ignored at discretion.

I am also not aware that s 15AB extends to granting extensions for third party conferral, as the statutory right for agencies to extend the s 15(5)(b) deadline for third party consultation already exists under ss 26A, 26AA, 27 or 27A of the Freedom of Information Act.

Simply stating the word complex or voluminous does not satisfy the threshold of s 15AB, nor does it enable extensions to be granted for reasons other than those specified in s 15AB, yet clearly you have improperly granted this extension under s 15AB, despite it being non-compliant.

Furthermore, the FOI scope made very clear that the documents sought where the standard Rehabilitation and Compensation performance metrics reports, produced monthly internally by DVA for its own Senior Leadership Team (and has nothing to do with the ANAO, other than that ANAO made a brief comment in one report that this is a routine governance activity DVA engage in to monitor R&C performance - it was in no way and nothing to do with an ad hoc papers submission to the ANAO or unique request from the ANAO to the DVA for a unique report, as such papers would be exempt anyway).

I find it concerning that blantant misrepresentation about the scope of this FOI, what documents it covers, and what s 15AB allows have been made, and I seek a senior officer of the OAIC to review your inappropriate use of s 15AB, as it clearly does not apply to extensions of time for third party consultation, which should only occur under ss 26A, 26AA, 27 or 27A in this first instance.

I was of the understanding the OAIC were supposed to be regulating FOI in the federal public sector, not facilitating its abuse.

Julie

Link to this

Verity Pane left an annotation ()

Hi Julie,

You are wasting your breath talking to Carl English over at the OAIC, crooked as a dog’s leg and DVA’s go to man at the OAIC.

They have a cosy little arrangement of benefit and he won’t care one jot about the legalities (just look at the ridiculous decisions he’s made on my DVA FOIs). DVA’s wrist starts where Carl’s arse ends, to put it bluntly.

He holds himself unaccountable and certainly the PR only machine called the OAIC won’t disabuse him of that.

Former AG George Brandis was very effective is killing the OAIC’s early signs of real regulatory action (in between stacking other review bodies), and it pays only the smallest of lip service to FOI and privacy now, if not actively subverting it.

Given they mentioned ANAO they are obviously setting it up for an access refusal decision - despite that it clearly has nothing to do with your scope. DVA knows that if goes to the AAT or the OAIC later, that still gives them a few years of extra delay, so by the time the proper law gets applied, the information becomes practically irrelevant due to its age.

Best to try another angle via a new FOI and see if you can’t winkle it out that way.

Regards

Verity

Link to this

Julie left an annotation ()

Hi Verity,

I can see you haven’t had a very good time at the hands of the DVA, nor the OAIC, on your FOIs, which is reflected in your comments.

Perhaps with less history than you with these two, I am more open to hold out hope, although I agree there is something not right at all going on (although I think I would need more history to get to where you are).

The FOI system is supposed to work, so I am just going to persevere for now. I know from my cousin who used to work for DVA that the monthly report I am seeking exists (and has nothing to do with ANAO), so while the DVA is trying to obscure that and set this up for yet another refusal, I think I just have to go through the process

So while they did refuse both my Veteran MATES program request and Executive Board Minutes request, and then caused improper delays for all three of my outstanding FOIs, I just have to deal with each FOI individually.

Thanks for you advice though,

Julie

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Carl English (OAIC),

I write further in regards to your statement in your response of 11 October 2018 which stated you were entitled to ignore natural justice principles (which are common law) because the improper extension you granted the DVA under s 15AB for a non-s 15AB ground was ‘not particularly long.

The OAIC’s Information Commissioner has published her Freedom of information regulatory action policy (Feb 2018) on the OAIC website ( https://www.oaic.gov.au/resources/about-... ). Pages 5-6 relevantly state:

Regulatory action principles

The Information Commissioner will be guided by the following principles when taking FOI regulatory action:

Independence — the Information Commissioner will act independently and take action that is impartial and objective.

Accountability — the Information Commissioner is accountable for its FOI regulatory action through a range of review and appeal rights, and will ensure stakeholders are aware of those rights.

Proportionality — the Information Commissioner’s FOI regulatory action will be proportionate to the situation or conduct concerned.

Consistency — the Information Commissioner will strive to act consistently in a manner that is guided by and reflects this policy.

Timeliness — the Information Commissioner will strive to conduct and finalise regulatory action as promptly as practicable.

Transparency — the Information Commissioner will be open about how FOI regulatory powers are used, including by publishing relevant guidance (including this policy and the FOI Guidelines), information about the regulatory action taken and decisions on Information Commissioner reviews.

When taking FOI regulatory action, the Information Commissioner will act consistently with general principles of good decision making, as explained in the Best Practice Guides published by the Administrative Review Council. ^^^In particular, the Information Commissioner will act fairly and in accordance with principles of natural justice (or procedural fairness).^^^ [no mention that there is a cut off or derogation based on the amount of time involved]

Yet again, the evidence is you Carl English have not adhered to the OAIC’s own directives, guidelines and policies, have been opaque and unaccountable, and have acted outside your delegated legislative powers.

This is to be regarded as a formal complaint about your decision and I want it to be dealt with by a senior OAIC officer, as a formal complaint about your conduct and your decision, to avoid all doubt.

Yours sincerely,

Julie

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

To Carl English,

On 10 October you wrote to me:

‘As a delegate of the Information Commissioner, I am authorised to make decisions on applications for extensions of time under s 15AB of the FOI Act. I have decided to grant the Department an extension of time under s 15AB(2) of the FOI Act to 25 October 2018.

By granting an extension of time it is anticipated that the Department will provide a well- reasoned and better managed decision.’

We are now three weeks past that extended deadline, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has still yet to give any update, let alone a decision notice.

It appears your anticipation that the extension you granted would enable the Department to provide a well-reasoned and better managed decision was grossly misplaced, and instead you have just delayed a deemed refusal decision instead, given nothing has been done by the DVA.

It also is worth highlighting that the OAIC has also ignored the DVA’s failure to provide any decision by expiry of the s 15AB deadline, and has not followed up with them either, again supporting the conclusion that Mr English was not motivated by the aims and objects of the FOI Act in granting this s 15AB extension without giving me the opportunity to be heard, but rather what was expedient for him.

I hope in future that the DVA’s non-compliance here will be reflected in future spurious and underhanded s 15AB application considerations.

Disappointing,

Julie

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

To INFORMATION.LAW,

Despite having received a s 15AB extension from the OAIC under highly inappropriate circumstances, to 25 October 2018, the Department has failed to provide a decision notice.

Despite three weeks having passed since then, no update nor belated decision notice has been provided.

Again, this is highly unprofessional behaviour by the Department and shows a contemptuous disregard for the FOI Act, especially since this comes against a rash of deemed decisions received due to the Department failing to respond by statutory deadlines.

Not even an apology for missing the multiple deadlines!

Shocked,

Julie

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: RQ18/02960

 

Dear Julie

 

Thank you for your email.

 

I note that you have raised concerns about the Department of Veterans'
Affairs (the Department) in that they have not provided you with a
decision to your freedom of information request by 25 October 2018.

 

I would be grateful if you could please confirm whether you are seeking
Information Commissioner review of the deemed refusal?

 

If you could please provide a response by 23 November 2018, that would be
greatly appreciated.

 

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

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Dear Vivian,

What are the usual steps taken by the OAIC when, after the OAIC has granted an agency a s 15AB extension in which to provide ‘a well-reasoned and better managed decision’, the agency fails to provide a decision nor give any reason why it has failed to do so?

Can you please explain to me what the OAIC does when, having granted an agency a s 15AB extension (in this case, invalidly and without giving me the right to be heard), the agency fails to provide any decision and continues to ignore follow up for weeks?

Doesn’t the OAIC take any responsibility for the mess it has made of this FOI, having invalidly granted an s 15AB extension for an alleged need for third party consultation (of which no consultation has taken place), and now that the s 15AB expired some weeks go, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has continued to ignore and has failed to respond to follow ups by me?

Or it is that the OAIC simply ignores this unethical conduct by the Department and just immediately stamps the next s 15AB extension made by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, acting mock shocked when the same thing happens all over again?

Of the FOIs I have made to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, I think it safe to say none had been treated as they are supposed to be treated under the FOI Act, with the Department engaging in very disappointing behaviour quite contrary to its aims and objective, and in bad faith almost all of the time.

This is despite these FOIs being predominately very simple in nature.

My first FOI to the Department received a very poor decision notice, that even the Department could not defend on Internal Review (thankfully - but I since note that the DVA aren’t even trying to issue decisions on Internal Reviews now).

My second FOI for the minutes of the Executive Board of DVA was again treatedly very poorly and it is difficult to see how all of the minutes (for such benign things like the attendees titles, agenda titles, start time, etc) could in any way be justified for total exemption and now, instead of dealing with the Internal Review request, the Department has just simply ignored it (now having gone deemed on 1 November and the DVA has refused to respond to follow up).

After being refused access to the Executive Board Minutes, I identified via the Department’s own published Corporate Plan (page 8 - https://www.dva.gov.au/sites/default/fil... ) the various Departmental senior subcommittees and related comittees (Tier One and Tier Two senior committees as the Department calls them, above the level of working and reference groups, with these Tier One and Two committees having Senior Executive Service members of the Department on them). I then sought the minutes of these committees in FOIs 25066 & 25068 & 25070 & 25071 & 25074 & 25075 only for the Department to refuse any access, by either denying any records existed of these very senior committees or claiming they were so secret that even partially releasing any document would cause the end of the world (even for something as basic as the titles of those who attended, the time the committee meeting started, and other benign information).

This is despite, for example, the DVA People Committee having been around since 2014 (even earlier if you count the performance and change committee it was part of previously) and the other committees existing in one form or another similarly since the start of the decade as well.

To date, I have had:
* One s 15AB granted DVA FOI extension, which even with extension, the Department did not respond and still continues to not respond;
* FIVE deemed decisions due to the refusal of the Department to adhere to statutory deadlines under the FOI Act;
* An number of poor quality ‘cut and paste’ duplicate access refusal decisions that are, frankly, untenable; and
* Unnecessary and unethical hostility from Departmental staff to the rights of access under FOI law, including in the making of last minute extensions of essentially false and unsupported claims, merely to delay access (as show by this FOI, FOI 24434, where DVA - despite receiving the invalid extension - let it expire without taking any action and still is ignoring its obligation to provide a decision notice)

The history of the Department’s handling of my FOI applications made to it, are - frankly - shameful:

*DVA FOI 24057*
> Made 17 August 2018
>> Access Refusal Decision 17 September 2018 https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> Reversed on Internal Review to Partial Access https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...

*DVA FOI 24297*
> Made 31 August 2018 (Due 1 October 2018 due to falling on a Sunday)
>> Deemed Refusal 1 October 2018
>> 2 October 2018 Access Refusal Decision substitution over all minutes (47C & 47E), including time and attendees and titles etc https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> 2 October 2018 - Internal Review applied for and decision was due 1 November 2018
>>>> Department did not respond, deemed upholding of original decision, and the DVA have not responded to follow up messages

*DVA FOI 24432*
> Made 11 September 2018
>> Department sought s 15AA extension on 27 September 2018 for additional 30 days; despite repeated requests for justifying evidence, Department failed to provide any (just generic and vague unsubstantiated claims) - no grounds identified by Department to support extension - asked Department to update me by 9 October 2018 on stage of progress but Department failed to do so
>>> Due date was 11 October 2018, Department did not respond and FOI received a deemed refusal as a result
>>>> Three seperate follow ups have been ignored by Department

*DVA FOI 24434* (This FOI)
> Made 11 September 2018 (Due 11 October 2018)
>> Department sought identical s 15AA extension on 27 September 2018 for additional 30 days (same as FOI 24432 and FOI 24465); despite repeated requests for justifying evidence, Department failed to provide any (just generic and vague unsubstantiated claims identical to those made in FOI 24432 and FOI 24465) - no grounds identified by Department to support extension - asked Department to update me by 9 October 2018 on stage of progress but Department failed to do so
>>> 10 October 2018 - on second last day of s 15(5)(b) statutory deadline, the Department without notice applied to the OAIC for a s 15AB extension instead and received it from the OAIC within hours of the application having been made - s 15AB extension granted was not on basis of being complex or voluminous but to allegedly allow for a consultation by DVA with ANAO (despite the documents sought being routine reports from its own performance management system) - third party consultations are not provided for under s 15AB, as they come under ss 26AA, 27 or 27A of the FOI Act and therefore this decision by the OAIC was invalid and beyond the power of the delegate to issue as a s 15AB decision.
>>>> 25 October 2018 - s 15AB extension granted expired on this date and yet no decision notice was provided by the DVA and the Department has failed to respond to follow up. FOI is deemed refusal and no charges can be applied as a result to future decisions.

*DVA FOI 24465*
> Made 12 September 2018
>> Department sought identical s 15AA extension on 27 September 2018 for additional 30 days (same as FOI 24432 and FOI 24434); despite repeated requests for justifying evidence, Department failed to provide any (just generic and vague unsubstantiated claims identical to those made in FOI 24432 and FOI 24434) - no grounds identified by Department to support extension - asked Department to update me by 9 October 2018 on stage of progress but Department failed to do so
>>> 3 October 2018 - Department sought revised scope to only three document categories of its choosing, a request to provide further details was ignored by the Department
>>>> On decision due date (12 October 2018) the DVA apply for s 15AB extension instead, as extension was not granted before expiry of s 15(5)(b) deadline, no charges can now be levied, and decision lapsed into deemed refusal decision
>>>>> 18 October 2018 - after submissions, the OAIC declines to grant the Department a s 15AB extension
>>>>>> 26 October 2018 - Department provides a list of 75 documents (although some are actually parts of the same document) - down from the 100+ claimed in the s 15AB application to exist - identified and asks me to select 50 from that list
>>>>>>> 29 October 2018 - I identify the 25 documents DVA may chose not to consider
>>>>>>>> 13 November - FOI now over two months old and still without a decision notice from the Department, follow-ups are just ignored by the DVA.

*DVA FOI 25066*
> Made 13 October 2018 (Due date 12 November)
>> 12 November 2018 - Full access refusal decision (s 45, s 47C & s 47E) over all minutes, including time and attendees and titles etc (identical decision to FOI 25068) https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> 15 November 2018 - Internal Review Applied for (due 17 Dec 2018)

*DVA FOI 25068*
> Made 13 October 2018 (Due date 12 November)
>> 12 November 2018 - Full access refusal decision (s 45, s 47C & s 47E) over all minutes, including time and attendees and titles etc (identical decision to FOI 25066) https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> 15 November 2018 - Internal Review Applied for (due 17 Dec 2018)

*DVA FOI 25070*
> Made 13 October 2018
>> Refused Access (Doesn’t exist) 25 October 2018 (Despite committee being identified by DVA’s own published Corporate Plan) (identical response to FOI 25071 & 25074 & 25075) https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> 25 October 2018 - Referred to OAIC for IC Review (still waiting for allocation from OAIC)

*DVA FOI 25071*
> Made 13 October 2018
>> Refused Access (Doesn’t exist) 26 October 2018 (Despite committee being identified by DVA’s own published Corporate Plan) (identical response to FOI 25070 & 25074 & 25075) https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> Internal Review applied for 26 October 2028; awaiting decision (due 26 November)

*DVA FOI 25074*
> Made 13 October 2018
>> Refused Access (Doesn’t exist) 25 October 2018 (Despite committee being identified by DVA’s own published Corporate Plan) (identical response to FOI 25070 & 25071 & 25075) https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> 25 October 2018 - Referred to OAIC for IC Review (still waiting for allocation from OAIC)

*DVA FOI 25075*
> Made 13 October 2018
>> Refused Access (Doesn’t exist) 25 October 2018 (Despite committee being identified by DVA’s own published Corporate Plan) (identical response to FOI 25070 & 25071 & 25074) https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> 25 October 2018 - Referred to OAIC for IC Review (still waiting for allocation from OAIC)

*DVA FOI 25115*
> Made 11 October 2018 (Due 12 November)
>> Partial Release decision 12 November, consisting almost wholly of my own emails, with more than 75% of the rest of pages fully redacted (just blacked out pages) https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4... https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4...
>>> Internal Review applied for 15 November 2018 (Due 17 Dec)

*DVA FOI 25436*
> Made 7 November 2018; awaiting decision (due 7 December)

*DVA FOI (Unallocated)*
> Made 15 November 2018; awaiting acknowledgment

*AAR - LEX 25117*
> Made 15 October 2018
>> Received partial release of material on 13 November 2018

Only the AAR was reasonable in the Department’s response, which has to be assessed as being the remarkable outlier from the overwhelming majority of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs responses.

I am rather stunned - to be frank - by the OAIC’s lack of interest here in what appears systemic bad faith by the Department in its FOI responses (or lack of responses), given it’s mandated regulatory role.

Sincerely,

Julie

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: RQ18/02960

DVA reference: FOI 24434

 

Dear Julie

 

Thank you for your email below.

 

I note that you have raised concerns about the Department of Veterans'
Affairs (the Department) in that they have not provided you with a
decision to your freedom of information request by 25 October 2018.

 

If the Department has yet to provide you with a decision and you would
like to seek Information Commissioner review of the deemed refusal, please
let us know. If you could please provide a response by 5 December 2018,
that would be greatly appreciated.

 

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

 

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

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

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: RQ18/02960

DVA reference: FOI 24434

 

Dear Julie

 

Further to our previous correspondence, I understand you have raised
concerns regarding the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
‘s (the OAIC) handling of extensions of time requests under s 15AB of the
Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act).

Extension of Time Requests

Information about how the OAIC handles extensions of time requests can be
found published on our website:

·         [1]FOI fact sheet 16: Freedom of information — Extensions of
time

·         [2]FOI agency resource 13: Extension of time for processing
requests

The FOI Guidelines at [3][3.150] – [3.155] also provide further
information on deemed decisions and an agency’s obligations following a
deemed decision. 

FOI Complaints

The OAIC has the power to investigate complaints about an agency’s actions
under the FOI Act. This is a separate process from asking for an
Information Commissioner review following a decision made under the FOI
Act. Complaints usually focus on how an agency has handled your FOI
request or complied with other obligations under the FOI Act, rather than
the decision itself.

 

Further information about how to make a complaint can be found published
on our [4]website.

 

We would be grateful if you could confirm whether you wish to seek IC
review of the Department’s deemed decisions, or, lodge a complaint about
the Department’s handling of your FOI requests.

 

If you wish to seek review of the Department’s deemed decisions, please
specify which deemed refused decisions you wish to seek review of.

 

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

 

Kind regards

 

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

Freedom of Information

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW
2001  |  [6]oaic.gov.au

+61 2 9284 9797  |  
[7][email address]
[11]Subscribe [12]Subscribe to
[8]Facebook | [9]LinkedIn | [10]Twitter |   icon OAICnet
newsletter

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Julie

Delivered

Dear Vivian,

I take it from your answer, which did not directly address the issue raised, that the OAIC takes no action and applies no penalty to agencies that fail to abide by deadlines set by the OAIC.

This no doubt is the cause of much of the disregard agencies have for such OAIC set deadlines. It seems regardless of what happens, the OAIC just hands out free passes to such badly behaving agencies.

Yes, given the OAIC has pushed all responsibility for these breaches by the Department of Veterans‘ Affairs back to me, I apply for Information Commissioners’ Review of this FOI (along with all the other multiple deemed refusals I’ve received from this Department).

Yours sincerely,

Julie

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Veterans' Affairs only: