Documents that refer to the replacement of delegate names with position number reference instead

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

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

Under FOI, I seek copy for any document (including emails) received or sent by any SES level officer in the period 1 January 2018 - 30 April 2018 that relates to the replacement of delegate names in official correspondence with position number instead.

It is likely that such a document was sent to the Secretary for approval and also involved a Department brief for the Minister, but I provide this merely as pointers to where such documents in scope may be found.

TRIM and the G: drive of the Legal Services & Assurance branch should also be searched for such documents, in addition to the Department’s email server (but again may be limited to SES level officers only).

Yours faithfully,

Verity Pane

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

Since you have difficulty adhering to the statutory response dates, your ready reckoner for this FOI is:
s 15(5)(a) Statutory Acknowledgement Deadline Friday 14th September 2018
s 15(5)(b) Statutory Due Date: Monday 1st October 2018 for decision (due to 30th day falling on the Sunday)

Yours faithfully,

Verity Pane

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Dear Verity,

 

Acknowledgement of FOI Request – FOI 24298

 

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 31 August 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 1 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 24298.

 

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

 

 

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Attachment FOI 24298 Statement of Reasons.pdf
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Good afternoon Verity Pane,

 

FOI 24298 – Decision and Statement of Reasons

 

Please find attached a decision in relation to your FOI request received
on 31 August 2018. Please note your review rights as detailed at pages 2
and 3 of the attached decision.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Information Law Team

Department of Veterans’ Affairs
E: [1][email address] | W: [2]www.dva.gov.au

 

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

 

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Unnamed Officer,

Surprise, surprise - DVA stalls yet again. This time claiming no such documents exist for a rather significant change in FOI practice. It is untenable and fanciful that this significant change occurred with absolutely no documents implementing it.

I seek internal review on the grounds that the search was inadequate, and clearly did exclude relevant documents.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Dear Verity Pane,

 

Acknowledgement of FOI Internal Review Request – IR 24825

 

I refer to your request for internal review by our Department under the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). The Department received your
request on 2 October 2018. In accordance with section 54C(3) of the FOI
Act, the Department has 30 days to process your request. As such, a
decision on your request is due by 1 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 IR 24825.

 

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

 

 

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Unnamed Officer,

Further to the internal review grounds raised, I understand that the OAIC’s ICON circular to agencies (Friday, 8 June 2018 edition) explicitly stated:

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 [FOI Guidelines 3.181]

I find it hard to believe that the OAIC explicitly telling agencies, including DVA, the requirements for FOI delegate identification, which DVA had been in absolute breach of, didn’t generate any document within DVA.

I guess this raises the question why DVA is flagrantly breaching FOI law with the use of pseudonyms in its FOI decisions, even when the OAIC has told DVA this is in breach.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Attn DVA Internal Reviewer,

In the impugned decision notice on which this review is sought, Position Number 62210358 of DVA Information Law claimed no documents existed that referred to DVA’s impugned practice of hiding the names of delegates and decision makers behind the pseudonyms of position numbers (of which only DVA knows the occupant).

However, I have been forwarded a copy of DVA Departmental record by my source, that was drafted to brief the Minister in relation to questions from then Senator Jacqui Lambie, and the writer of that document comes from the same area as you FOI delegate’s (the Legal Services and Assurance Branch).

The document in question advises the Minister that DVA has implemented the use of pseudonyms to hide the identity of Departmental employees, citing the ‘Work Health & Safety Act 2011’ (citing the external legal services opinion DVA contracted to obtain, which you also claim doesn’t exist).

Although that document says DVA will use first names, position numbers and title, which DVA claimed was required to enable clients to identify the relevant decision maker and provide the minimum transparency, instead of just the position numbers that DVA uses now to be completely opaque.

Is there a reason why DVA repeatly lies through its teeth, in a corrupt bad faith manner?

Ms Pane

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Attachment FOI 24825 Decision and Statement of Reasons.pdf
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Good afternoon Verity Pane,

 

FOI 24825 (Internal Review of FOI 24298)

 

Further to your request for an internal review received by the Department
on 2 October 2018, please now find attached a decision on review.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services and General Counsel Branch

Legal Assurance and Governance Division

Department of Veterans’ Affairs
E: [1][email address] | W: [2]www.dva.gov.au

 

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

 

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Attn INFORMATION.LAW,

Even when your own Departmental responses to Questions On Notices in Parliament directly contradict the false claims that no documents exist, you still continue to lie.

It’s the extent of corruption that DVA officers like George have, that should be of great concern to the integrity of the public service.

I also note, yet again, an invalid decision has been issued.

The FOI decision notice is invalid, as it does not meet the requirements of 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”.

This required information is not merely incidental to an FOI decision but integral - it is provided so the receiver knows who to contact about the decision, and to determine whether the person who issued it is in fact authorised to do so (such as by independently checking the agency’s FOI delegations/authorisations list). It is simply not enough to assert that the agency knows who issued the decision, or is confident they are authorised to do so - it is not a question for the agency alone to determine.

I also note that your Minister, in response to Question on notice 369, stated to Parliament that DVA would not use less than first name, position number and title, in decisions (despite that also falling below s 26(1)(b)), so as to not fall below identification and transparency requirements, but since then title and first name has been dropped and now the opaque position number is used alone routinely. Has your Minister deliberately misled Parliament?

IC Review will be applied for based on the above.

Ms Pane

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