Documents & procedures relating to the operation, backup and disaster recovery of the EasyCount Senate software application

Sam Silvester made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Electoral Commission

The request was partially successful.

From: Sam Silvester

Delivered

Dear Australian Electoral Commission,

I am writing to you persuant to section 15 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Commonwealth) (FOI Act).

I am seeking:

- Documentation relating to the operation and data entry procedures for the EasyCount Senate vote counting software and any associated systems.

- Documentation relating to the backup procedure for the EasyCount Senate vote counting software and any associated systems.

- Disaster recovery plans and procedures for the EasyCount Senate vote counting software and any associated systems.

Yours faithfully,

Sam Silvester

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Australian Electoral Commission

Thank you for contacting us.

This is an automatic response from the Australian Electoral Commission to confirm we have received your email.

For more information on enrolling to vote, federal elections or the AEC, visit www.aec.gov.au.

Please do not respond to this email.

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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Attachment LS5105 Letter to S Silvester re practic refusal consultation 20140808.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Silvester

I enclose a scanned letter dated 8 August 2014 to you from Mr Michael
Ross, Acting Chief Legal Officer of the AEC initiating a practical refusal
consultation in respect of your FOI Request.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal, Parliamentary and Procurement Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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Daniel O'Connor left an annotation ()

It's worth:
- Explicitly excluding any existing vendor related documentation that would be otherwise readily available to a system administrator. IE: you don't need a HOWTO for SQL Server; but you do need the schema.
- Pointing out that during an *actual disaster* or a regularly scheduled practice event; DR + BCP documentation would be widely and readily available. If it's legitimately an excessive diversion of resources to get access to that; that would indicate a frightening lack of risk management planning and compliance.
- Providing an example such as http://www.business.qld.gov.au/__data/as... to better inform the FOI responder: they don't seem to be discussing this with their internal IT; it's reasonable to assume they do not understand what is being requested.

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Daniel O'Connor left an annotation ()

Additionally, you may wish to draw the FOI responder to the OAIC's guidance in processing requests
http://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-inform... - waiting 21 days, seeking no clarity, and replying with a refusal because they are taking an extremely obtuse understanding of the request does not appear to gel with the advice provided to agencies.

It would be interesting to see the actual internal guidelines for responding to requests; as I suspect they would broadly align to the OAIC's recommendations.

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From: Sam Silvester

Delivered

Dear Owen Jones,

Thankyou for your reply,

I do not agree that this request should substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the AEC due to it's size, complexity, broad scope or vagueness as you assert.

Within any well-run IT environment, disaster recovery planning and exercises are standard practice, thus I would expect disaster recovery documentation would be widely and readily available. If it's legitimately an excessive diversion of resources to get access to that; that would indicate a frightening lack of risk management planning and compliance.

I draw your attention to the OAIC's guidelines for FoI requests, part 3, section 3.56:

"The Information Commissioner considers that, as a minimum, an agency should conduct a search by using existing technology and infrastructure to conduct an electronic search of documents, as well as making enquiries of those who may be able to help locate the documents."

I would suggest a discussion with AEC's IT department may help with your understanding of what I am requesting, as DR/BCP planning documents are essentially a standard practice in IT industry and should be readily available; I do not see how providing these documents could in any way substantially or unreasonably divert the resources of the AEC from its other operations.

To address your commentary about the scope I can clarify my request somewhat:

1. I am happy for the scope to be narrowed by dropping the request for 'any additional systems' on the understanding that the request for operation/backup/disaster recovery of the EasyCount senate software is already specific enough to enable the AEC to understand what documents I am requesting.

2. Also please exclude any standard vendor documentation (for example, vendor documentation on operation of operating systems or database servers is not what I am asking for). I am interested only the AEC's procedural documents for backup and disaster recovery of the EasyCount software application.

If this is still not sufficiently clear, I am more than happy for you to clarify with me as is required under section 3.52 of Part 3 of the OAIC's FOI Guidelines (http://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-inform...

Yours sincerely,

Sam Silvester

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From: Sam Silvester

Delivered

Dear Owen Jones,

I write to enquire as to the progress of my request - my understanding is that by law, a response was due by the 11th of September.

I spoke with Michael Ross on the 15th of September and he said he has not yet seen my response.

Can you advise as soon as possible?

Yours sincerely,

Sam Silvester

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Sent a follow up to Australian Electoral Commission again.

Ben Fairless left an annotation ()

I've resent the August 12, 2014 Follow-Up to Owen as requested by Sam.

If anyone cares for it, the AEC Mail Server (mailin-aec1.humanservices.gov.au) received the August 12, 2014 email to Owen Jones at 09:46:12 and gave it a reference of "3EDD65C". As the email was accepted by the AEC's Mail Server, It should therefore be considered as received on the 12th of August.

Ben

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Sam Silvester left an annotation ()

Have telephoned and left a message for Owen who was not available to confirm receipt this time around.
Left contact details and reference number.

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Sam Silvester left an annotation ()

Received telephone call from Owen Jones.

He has confirmed receipt of both the reply on the 12th of August as well as the reply from the 22nd of September.

Apparently the reason no reply has been received yet is due to workload.

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Michael Cordover left an annotation ()

It's worth noting that this request was probably deemed refused around 11 September. This means that if IC review is sought that should be initiated by 7 November to remain within time.

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Sam Silvester left an annotation ()

Hi Michael,

Can you expand on that?

I spoke with Owen Jones a couple of days ago and he has confirmed receipt of both the reply on the 12th of August as well as the reply from the 22nd of September - so I'm not sure why this would have been deemed refused considering I replied in time for it to be considered?

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Ben Fairless left an annotation ()

I think (I'm not a lawyer) that the way it works is that when the 14 days is up, the original 30 day clock starts. If I'm right (which I'm not sure on) it would have the following timeline:

18 July - Request Received - 30 days to complete
9 August - Clock Stopped for 14 days - 8 Days remaining
24 August - Consultation Finishes - 8 Days Remaining
1 September - Clock runs out - Deemed Refused

"Deemed Refused" applies if the Agency does not make a decision on a request. Your only right of appeal is to the Information Commissioner, however sometimes Internal Review has been known to produce results.

In most cases you must apply for IC review within 60 days of being notified of the minister’s or agency’s decision.

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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Attachment LS5105 Letter to S Silvester notifying decision Annexure 1.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Silvester

I refer to your email of 12 August 2014 9:46 AM in relation to your
request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the ‘FOI Act’) for
documentation for operation, backup and disaster recovery of EasyCount^®
Software (the ‘FOI Request’) held by the Australian Electoral Commission
(‘AEC’).

I enclose a letter to you dated 11 November 2014 from Mr Paul Pirani,
Chief Legal Officer of the AEC notifiying you of his decision about your
FOI Request.

Thank you for your patience in waiting for the decision while a backlog of
earlier reeuests was processed.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal, Parliamentary and Procurement Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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Attachment LS5105 Letter to S Silvester notifying decision 20141111.pdf
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Attachment LS5105 Letter to S Silvester notifying decision Annexure 1.pdf
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Attachment LS5105 Released Document No.3.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Silvester

I refer to your email of 12 August 2014 9:46 AM in relation to your
request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the ‘FOI Act’) for
documentation for operation, backup and disaster recovery of EasyCount^®
Software (the ‘FOI Request’) held by the Australian Electoral Commission
(‘AEC’).

I enclose a letter to you dated 11 November 2014 from Mr Paul Pirani,
Chief Legal Officer of the AEC notifiying you of his decision about your
FOI Request.

Thank you for your patience in waiting for the decision while a backlog of
earlier reeuests was processed.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal, Parliamentary and Procurement Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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From: Sam Silvester

Delivered

Dear Owen Jones,

I write regarding your response to my FOI request.

I would like to take you up on your offer to provide edited version of certain documents, those referenced in paragraph 8(b).

Yours sincerely,

Sam Silvester

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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Attachment LS5105 Released Document No.1.pdf
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Attachment LS5105 Released Document No.6.pdf
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Attachment Redaction Reasons.docx
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Silvester

Thank you for your telephone call on 11 February 2015 following up your
email of 24 November, 2014 11:37 AM about this matter.

I apologise for the delay in forwarding to you Document Nos 1 , 2, 4, 5
and 6. As I said in our telphone call the oversight is entirely my
responsibility.

The documents are attached to this email.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal, Parliamentary and Procurement Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Australian Electoral Commission only: