Declaration by Secretary Heather Smith

The request was successful.

FOI Team,

On 19 September 2018, your Department's accountable authority, Secretary Heather Smith, released an annual report noting that:

"Significant instances of non-compliance were identified and reported to the relevant Minister and the Minister for Finance. The department identified significant instances of non-compliance with the finance law, specifically with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (including consequential breaches relating to section 23 of the PGPA Act). Corrective action has been undertaken, which ensures that the department’s needs for operational efficiency and flexibility are met within a compliant framework"

Page 59 in https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/defaul...

On 18 September 2019, the Secretary vowed compliance with fraud legislation:

"I certify that the department has prepared divisional fraud and corruption risk assessments and a fraud and corruption control plan; has in place fraud prevention,
detection, investigation and reporting mechanisms that meet its needs; and has taken all
reasonable measures to appropriately deal with fraud."

Page 11 in https://www.industry.gov.au/sites/defaul...

On 9 October 2020, your Department declared that no fraud risk assessments had been conducted in over 36 months for AusIndustry Support for Business - the Department's flagship division entrusted with whole-of-government grant administration through Business Grant Hub:

Page 1 in https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/6...

I would like to see the documents that Secretary Heather Smith relied on to make her declaration and certify compliance in 2019.

Thank you,

Harry Witherspoon

Freedom of Information, Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources

Dear Mr Witherspoon

 

We refer to your Freedom of Information request received by the Department
of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (the department) on 22 October
2020.

 

Personal information

For documents that fall within the scope of the request, it is the
department’s policy to withhold:

 

·         the names, signatures and contact details of junior staff; that
is:

o   Commonwealth staff who are not in the Senior Executive Service (SES);
and

o   Ministerial staff below the level of Chief of Staff; and

·         the mobile phone numbers of SES officers.

 

The names and other details of SES officers will be released unless the
information is exempt from disclosure.

 

Confirmation from you that you are not seeking ‘personal information’ (ie.
the names and contact details of any individuals, or any information that
could reasonably identify an individual) may enable a more timely and cost
effective processing of your request.

 

Therefore, could you please clarify if you a seeking access to personal
information in the documents relating to:

·         third parties; and

·         Commonwealth staff.

 

If you are not seeking access to any personal information, you can simply
reply to this email with ‘no personal information requested’.

 

If you are seeking access to specific types of personal information, could
you please specify.

 

Request for extension

 

Unfortunately, due to an unusually high volume of FOI requests relating to
this subject matter, and the resulting limited capacity of subject matter
experts to assist with the review of the information, the department
anticipates that it will not be possible to advise you of a decision
within the current statutory timeframes.

 

I would be grateful if you could please consider agreeing to an extension
of time (under section 15AA of the FOI Act) of 30 days for the processing
of your request.

 

I apologise for any delay and inconvenience this may cause you and the
department will endeavour to provide you with a decision as soon as
possible.

 

We look forward to your response at your earliest convenience but no later
than 9 November 2020.

 

If you have any questions, please contact the FOI team.

 

Regards

 

FOI Team

Legal, Audit and Assurance | Corporate & Digital

GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

I don't agree with any extension and I ask that names of public servants are left without redaction.

Yours sincerely,

Harry Witherspoon

Freedom of Information, Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources

1 Attachment

Dear Harry

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your Freedom of
Information request received on 22 October 2020.

 

Should you have any queries in relation to this matter, please contact the
FOI team.

 

Regards

 

FOI Team

Legal, Audit and Assurance | Corporate & Digital

GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601

show quoted sections

Thank you, Heather.

To clarify the specific documents requested, I note that the Secretary must have sought advice from the Assurance and Audit Committee and/or the Fraud Control Section in meeting her obligations under s 17AG of the PGPA Rule.

To reduce the size of the request, I consent to limit the search to the Assurance and Audit Committee and the Fraud Control Section.

Any advice from the Audit Committee and/or the Fraud Control Section that was provided to the Secretary to inform her 18/Sep/2019 declaration should be included in this FOI disclosure.

Yours sincerely,

Harry Witherspoon

Freedom of Information, Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources

Dear Harry

 

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (the Department)
is currently in the process of making a decision in relation to the
release of documents for your FOI request, reference 67336.

 

Upon consideration of your request, the department is of the view that
your request will take longer than 30 days to process. This is due to an
unusually high volume of FOI requests relating to this subject matter, and
the resulting limited capacity of subject matter experts to assist with
the review of the information. Therefore it will not be possible to advise
you of a decision by 22 November 2020.

 

I would be grateful if you could please consider agreeing to an extension
of time (under section 15AA of the FOI Act) of 30 days for the processing
of your request. If you agree to this extension the decision on your
request would then be due on or before 22 December 2020.

 

I apologise for the delay and any inconvenience this may cause you and the
department will endeavour to provide you with a decision as soon as
possible.

 

Could you please respond advising whether you agree to this extension of
time at your earliest convenience but no later than 13 November 2020.

 

Thank you for your consideration of this matter. If you have any
questions, please contact the FOI team.

 

 

 

FOI Team

Legal, Audit and Assurance | Corporate & Digital

GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

With respect, I do not agree that this request should taker longer than 30 days to process and I do not consent to an extension.

I note that the two sections should be able to release this information under administrative access given the public interest in relation to compliance with fraud legislation and misrepresentation of the same.

Yours sincerely,

Harry Witherspoon

Freedom of Information, Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources

4 Attachments

Dear Harry

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your FOI request of 22
October 2020.

 

Should you have any queries regarding this matter, please contact the FOI
team.

 

Regards

 

FOI Team

Legal, Audit and Assurance | Corporate & Digital

GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601

show quoted sections

Dear Department of Industry, Innovation and Science,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Industry, Innovation and Science's handling of my FOI request 'Declaration by Secretary Heather Smith'.

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

With respect, I contend that the documents as released were crudely redacted and do not meet the requirements of the request or the FOI Act.

In my request, I raised concern with regard to the Department's failure to conduct a fraud risk assessment for a period of over 37 months (far beyond the 12 months prescribed by legislation) for its flagship division entrusted with whole-of-government business grant administration (AusIndustry Support for Business)

I noted it especially concerning that the Secretary certified compliance and vowed that divisional risk assessments had in fact been completed.

As a matter of great public interest, I note that the Department is entrusted with an annual appropriations budget in excess of $3.9 billion.

Whilst I recognise the sensitivities behind s47e redactions, these can be applied much more selectively such that:
- divisions listed as having conducted risk assessments remain visible, and
- mere mentions of risk assessments remain visible.

This would preserve the operational requirements of the Department whilst upholding public interest, transparency, the purpose of the request and that of the FOI Act.

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

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

Yours sincerely,

Harry Witherspoon

Freedom of Information, Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of Freedom of Information request Declaration by Secretary Heather Smith.txt

    2K Download View as HTML

Dear Harry

 

I confirm receipt of your internal review request received 24 November
2020.

 

A different decision maker will be appointed for your FOI matter.

 

The current due date for the internal review decision is on or before 24
December 2020.

 

Regards

 

FOI Team

Legal, Audit and Assurance Branch | Corporate Division

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601

 

 

Legal In Confidence - This transmission is intended only for the use of
the addressee and may contain confidential or legally privileged
information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that
any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If
you have received this transmission in error, please notify me immediately
by telephone and delete copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

 

OFFICIAL

Freedom of Information, Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources

2 Attachments

Dear Harry

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your internal review
request of 24 November 2020.

 

Should you have any queries regarding this matter, please contact the FOI
team.

 

Regards

 

FOI Team

Legal, Audit and Assurance Branch | Corporate Division

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

GPO Box 2013, Canberra ACT 2601

 

 

Legal In Confidence - This transmission is intended only for the use of
the addressee and may contain confidential or legally privileged
information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that
any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If
you have received this transmission in error, please notify me immediately
by telephone and delete copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

 

 

OFFICIAL