COVIDSafe statistics recieved by DTA

Chris F made this Freedom of Information request to Digital Transformation Office

Currently waiting for a response from Digital Transformation Office, they must respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

From: Chris F

Delivered

Dear Digital Transformation Agency,

Under Freedom of Information Act 1982 I request the following:

"Any emails:

* Received from a 3rd party or other government agency to the Digital Transformation Agency
* Sent by the Digital Transformation Agency
* containing statistics relating to install counts or registration numbers of the COVIDSafe mobile tracing application.
* limited to after the public release date of 26th April 2020.

Please note - This request is for emails contained by DTA and not any other agency or government department."

An agency or minister may impose a charge for providing access to a document under s29 of the FOI Act.

As this has been reported in the news daily, I request that the Department waive any charges applicable to this request, on the basis that the release of these documents would be in the public interest (s29(5)(b))

Please also note as this is timely information, if requested no extension would be granted under s15AA.

Yours faithfully,

Chris F

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From: FOI

OFFICIAL

Hi Chris,

Freedom of Information Request – FOI 189/2020

Thank you for your email to the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

List of documents requested:

Any emails:

* Received from a 3rd party or other government agency to the Digital Transformation Agency
* Sent by the Digital Transformation Agency
* containing statistics relating to install counts or registration numbers of the COVIDSafe mobile tracing application.
* limited to after the public release date of 26th April 2020.

Please note - This request is for emails contained by DTA and not any other agency or government department.

The statutory period for processing your request commences from the day after DTA received your request. Your request was received by DTA on 13 May 2020. 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, information released under the FOI Act may later be published online unless an exemption applies. For example, personal information will not be published where this would be unreasonable. Any documents provided to you under the FOI Act will be published on our disclosure log (www.dta.gov.au) as soon as practicable after they are released to you, usually 1 – 2 working days.

Policy to exclude junior departmental officer contact details
The DTA will include the names and contact details of SES officers in any document released under FOI. However, the DTA has adopted a policy to generally exclude the names and contact details of junior staff (non-SES officers) from any FOI documents. DTA’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,
Morgan

-- 
Freedom of Information
Digital Transformation Agency (DTA)
Australian Government
www.dta.gov.au
Email: [email address]
+61 2 6120 8541

OFFICIAL

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From: Carl English


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Our reference: RQ20/01653

Agency reference: 189/2020

Chris F

Sent by email: [FOI #6338 email]

Extension of time application by  Digital Transformation Agency

Dear Chris F

I write to advise that on 15 May 2020 the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner (the OAIC) received an application from Digital
Transformation Agency (the DTA) for an extension of time, to process your
FOI request.

The DTA has applied for an extension of time under s 15AB of the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (Cth) because your request is considered to be
complex.

The DTA has advised the OAIC that:

·      The request is complex as it may involve consultation with other
government agencies, in particular the Department of Health as the
publisher of the COVIDSafe App.

·      The line area responsible for the information is already processing
three other applications on various subjects related to the COVIDSafe App
development.

·      The DTA usually receives less than 20 FOI requests per year.
Consequently the DTA’s FOI officer is a part time role. However, the DTA
currently has six active FOI request, three of which are related to the
COVIDSafe app.

The DTA has requested an extension to 12 July 2020. I will take any
comments you may have to make into account when deciding the application.

Please respond to this email by close of business 21 May 2020. 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 DTA.

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

Further information about [1]extension of time requests may be found on
our website.

Contact

If you have any questions, please contact me on 02 9284 9745  or via email
[email address]. In all correspondence please include the
reference number at the top of this email.

Yours sincerely

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D446AF.83C3DEE0   Carl English  | Review Adviser (Legal)

Freedom of Information Dispute
Resolution

Office of the Australian Information
Commissioner

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

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

 

 

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From: Chris F

Delivered

Dear Carl,

Please find formatted copy of response at the following Microsoft OneDrive link:

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AsrWJy_3WCc4ikD9R-H7...

Otherwise text version is below.

Yours sincerely,

Chris

-------------------

Dear Carl,

Thank for your email regarding the request for extension by the Digital Transformation Agency for my FOI request.

I ask that you continue with the original date for the following reasons:

• The DTA has failed to state why this request is complex and provided reasons that are hypothetical and not provided in any measurable or quantifiable terms

(Knowles v Australian Information Commissioner [41] [2018] FCA 1212)

• The DTA’s other two reasons regarding workload are not valid or relevant as reasons for purposes of granting an extension under 15AB.

My request is extremely narrow in its parameters as I am after summary information only.

My specific reasons for disallowing the extension are below. Based on those I can not see how an extension can be granted under FOI guidelines as they do not meet the threshold for granting an extension.

Regards,

Chris

The line area responsible for the information is already processing three other applications on various subjects related to the COVIDSafe App development.

1. The DTA created an app that was stated publicly that “40% of population should install it”.

2. The app is mentioned dozens of times per day on all media outlets and by government ministers and officials.

3. DTA would be aware of the public interest of the app based on this.

4. FOI Guidelines 3.149 state:

“lack of staff because of inadequate allocation of resources to FOI processing or failure to assign additional temporary resources to FOI processing at peak times will not normally justify an extension in the absence of other extenuating circumstances.”

5. The DTA would have been aware that FOI requests and additional attention would be likely during this period and have not assigned additional temporary resources for this peak.

6. A reasonable person with no expertise of the DTA have would expect that interest in the app would be peaked after its release.

7. The OAIC website states:

“Factors that are not relevant are issues that are not connected to the request itself, including an agency’s heavy workload, competing priorities and ongoing resource limitations.”

8. The reason given by DTA above fits this definition meaning it is not relevant in the decision to grant an extension to this request.

The DTA usually receives less than 20 FOI requests per year. Consequently the DTA’s FOI officer is a part time role. However, the DTA currently has six active FOI request, three of which are related to the COVIDSafe app.

9. FOI Guidelines 3.149 state:

“lack of staff because of inadequate allocation of resources to FOI processing or failure to assign additional temporary resources to FOI processing at peak times will not normally justify an extension in the absence of other extenuating circumstances.”

10. The DTA would have been aware that FOI requests and additional attention would be likely during this period and have not assigned additional temporary resources for this peak.

11. A reasonable person with no expertise of the DTA have would expect that interest in the app would be peaked after its release.

12. The OAIC website states:

“Factors that are not relevant are issues that are not connected to the request itself, including an agency’s heavy workload, competing priorities and ongoing resource limitations.”

13. The reason given by DTA above fits this definition meaning it is not relevant in the decision to grant an extension to this request.

The request is complex as it may involve consultation with other government agencies, in particular the Department of Health as the publisher of the COVIDSafe App.

14. The request is limited to emails, so a single search is required and not of multiple systems or document storage areas.

15. The timeline of the request is for a short period.

16. The request is for summary information only. I see no reason why any commercial in confidence or exemptions will need to be made.

17. The summary information is stated daily by government so there should be no privacy implications in releasing the data.

18. The request is limited to the DTA only, so consultation with other agencies should not be required.

19. Should consultation occur, this should be brief because:

a. No private information should be covered

b. No commercial in confidence should be covered

c. Minimal documents are covered by the filtering of this request

d. The DTA has a close working relationship with Health due to ongoing work on the app.

20. FOI Guidelines 3.146 state:

“An agency or minister applying to the Information Commissioner for an extension of time under s 15AB should explain why the applicant’s FOI request is complex or voluminous , including details about:
• the scope of the request and the range of documents covered
• work already undertaken on the request
• any consultation with the applicant concerning length of time
• whether other agencies or parties have an interest in the request
• measures to be taken by the agency or minister to ensure a decision is made within the extended time period and to keep the applicant informed about progress”

21. The DTA have not provided any reasons of complexity based on guidelines above apart from other party’s interest. The two reasons the DTA provided as to why this FOI request was stated as “complex” was due to workload / resources - which is not relevant and also due to “possible” consultation with another agency.

22. Knowles v Australian Information Commissioner [41] [2018] FCA 1212 (15 August 2018) TRACEY J states:

“Secondly, the Commissioner was required, but had failed, to consider whether the complexity or voluminousness claimed by the Department was real and not merely hypothetical. The section impliedly required that he be satisfied on more than hypothetical grounds. The Commissioner’s FOI Case Management Manual specified that agencies should “provide measurable/quantifiable explanations and justifications as to why a matter is either complex or voluminous”. The Department’s application to extend time was largely hypothetical and lacked quantifiable justification. The hypothetical nature of the application was also evident from the fact that the Department had previously refused to carry out the searches sought by Mr Knowles. The Commissioner had erred by failing to consider this factor.”

23. The DTA have stated in their reasons that consultation with another agency was merely hypothetical and have not provided details in any measurable or quantifiable terms.

24. Based on these reasons, I can see no information provided by the DTA to justify this request as complex, except for stating possible consultation – therefore an extension should not be granted.

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From: Carl English


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Attachment RQ20 01653 Extension of time decision.pdf
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Our reference: RQ20/01653

Agency reference: 189/2020

Chris F

 

Sent by email: [FOI #6338 email]

Extension of time under s 15AB

Dear Chris F

Please find correspondence in relation to your FOI request to Digital
Transformation Agency  attached.

Kind regards

[1]cid:image001.jpg@01D446AF.83C3DEE0   Carl English  | Review Adviser (Legal)

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  | 
[3][email address]
[4]cid:image002.png@01D446AF.83C3DEE0 | [5]cid:image003.png@01D446AF.83C3DEE0 | [6]cid:image004.png@01D446AF.83C3DEE0 |   [7]cid:image005.png@01D446AF.83C3DEE0  

 

 

 

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From: Chris F

Delivered

Dear Carl,

In your decision you state:

"I am satisfied that extenuating circumstances exist due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has had a direct affect on DTA and its ability to process this FOI request. Accordingly, I am satisfied that a 30 day extension of time is appropriate in this circumstance"

In the DTA submission for an extension, the COVID-19 pandemic was not given as a reason for the complexity under 15AB, or even mentioned in the request at all.

The DTA is also not the primary agency dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are you able to provide further information as to how you received that information from the DTA for consideration which went in to your decision in granting this extension?

Yours sincerely,

Chris F

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Chris F left an annotation ()

OAIC Decision:

I have decided to grant the DTA an extension of time under s 15AB(2) of the FOI Act to
12 July 2020. I am satisfied that the DTA’s application for an extension of time is
justified, because the request is complex.

My reasons follow:
• The request is complex as it may involve consultation with other government
agencies, in particular the Department of Health as the publisher of the COVIDSafe
App.
• The line area responsible for the information is already processing three other
applications on various subjects related to the COVIDSafe App development.
• The DTA has to consider its allocation of FOI requests to relevant officers without
affecting its core and urgent work.
• The DTA usually receives less than 20 FOI requests per year. Consequently the
DTA’s FOI officer is a part time role. However, the DTA currently has six active FOI
request, three of which are related to the COVIDSafe app.

In your submissions, you contend that the DTA’s advice that it has insufficient
resources to process the request within the initial decision period is a factor that is
ordinarily an irrelevant consideration in relation to a decision to grant an extension
of time under s 15AB of the FOI Act.

The FOI Guidelines state at [3.149] that:

Staff absences due to public holidays or agency shutdown periods may be relevant to
whether an extension should be granted, if the particular staff members have skills or
knowledge that may be required to process the request in the normal statutory
timeframe. On the other hand, lack of staff because of inadequate allocation of
resources to FOI processing or failure to assign additional temporary resources to FOI
processing at peak times will not normally justify an extension in the absence of other
extenuating circumstances.[emphasis added]

I am satisfied that extenuating circumstances exist due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
and this has had a direct affect on DTA and its ability to process this FOI request.

Accordingly, I am satisfied that a 30 day extension of time is appropriate in this
circumstance.

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From: Carl English


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Attachment RQ20 01653 Extension of time decision.pdf
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Our reference: RQ20/01653

Agency reference: 189/2020

Chris F

Sent by email: [1][FOI #6338 email]

Extension of time under s 15AB 

Dear Chris F

 

Thank you for your email of 22 May 2020 and I apologise for the delay in
my response.

 

Decisions on extension of time requests are made on the submissions of
both parties.

 

My attached decision of 22 May 2020, and provided to you on the same date,
sets out my reasons for decision.

 

I note that page 4 of the attached decision also sets out your review
rights.

 

Please contact me if you have any further queries.

 

Kind regards

 

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D446AF.83C3DEE0   Carl English  | Review Adviser (Legal)

Freedom of Information Dispute
Resolution

Office of the Australian Information
Commissioner

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From: Chris F

Delivered

Dear Carl English,

So I am correct in my assumption that the "COVID-19 pandemic" and it having a "direct affect on the DTA" was your own personal evidence that went into the decision, as it was not provided in either the DTA's advice or my response?

Yours sincerely,

Chris F

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Digital Transformation Office only: