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Electoral Policy Unit

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Dear Department of Finance,

Under the FOI Act 1982, I request:

- Any currently-valid organisational charts that show the position of the Electoral Policy Unit within the Department's organisational structure. I do not want the contact details of any employees, nor the names of any employees whose rank is EL1 or lower.

- A list of all files (in the records management sense of container objects or "folders") from the Department's primary records management system, created from 2017 to the present, where the file is owned or otherwise associated with the Electoral Policy Unit.

I ask that the documents be provided in electronic form to this email.

Thank you very much for your attention to my request.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

Thank you for your email, which has been forwarded to the Department’s FOI
Team for their consideration. A member of the FOI Team will respond to
your email in the next couple of days.

 

Kind regards

 

FOI Coordinator

 

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

1 Attachment

SEC=OFFICIAL

Dear Andrew

 

Freedom of Information Request – FOI 22/42

Thank you for your email to the Department of Finance (Finance) requesting
access to the following under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(FOI Act):

[Part 1]

·         Any currently-valid organisational charts that show the position
of the Electoral Policy Unit within the Department's organisational
structure. I do not want the contact details of any employees, nor the
names of any employees whose rank is EL1 or lower.

[Part 2]

·         A list of all files (in the records management sense of
container objects or "folders") from the Department's primary records
management system, created from 2017 to the present, where the file is
owned or otherwise associated with the Electoral Policy Unit.

 

Your request was received by Finance on Wednesday 15 June 2022. The
statutory period for processing your request commences from the day after
Finance received your request and a decision is due on Friday 15 July
2022.

 

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.

 

We seek your assistance

Part 1

In relation to the first part of your request, you can access a copy of
Finance’s organisational chart on our website - [1]Organisational
Directory | Department of Finance. Please note that Finance’s
organisational chart only shows the breakdown of our organisation to a
branch level.

 

The team that works on electoral policy sits within the Resource
Management branch, which is located within the Governance and Resource
Management division.

If the above organisational directory contains the information that you
are seeking, we kindly request that you withdraw that portion of your FOI
request.

 

Part 2

In relation to the second part of your request, we consider processing
your request in its current form would substantially and unreasonably
divert the resources of Finance from its other operations.

We kindly ask that you narrow the scope of your request to a particular
document/s.

 

We kindly request that you narrow the scope of your request by 5:00pm
Friday 24 June 2022.

 

General matters

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, any documents provided to you under the FOI
Act will be published on our [2]disclosure log, unless an exemption
applies or the documents are characterised as containing personal
information. Documents will be published within one working day after they
are released to you.

 

Policy to exclude junior officer contact details and signatures

Finance has adopted a policy to generally exclude from any documents
released under FOI, the names and contact details of junior staff (non-SES
officers) and staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act
1984 (adviser level and below). Finance has also adopted a policy to
exclude signatures from any documents released under FOI (unless publicly
available). Finance’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, as well as
any signatures appearing in identified documents, will be 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.

 

Kind regards

 

[3]cid:image001.jpg@01D20F6A.F1CA1B30

 

FOI Officer | Legal and Assurance Branch

Business Enabling Services

Department of Finance

E: [4][Finance request email]

A: One Canberra Avenue, Forrest ACT 2603

SEC=OFFICIAL

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.finance.gov.au/publications/...
2. https://www.finance.gov.au/about-us/free...
4. mailto:[Finance request email]

Dear FOI Officer,

Regarding Part 1 - I thank you for the information regarding the Resource Management Branch.

To be clear - the phrase "organisational charts" in my original request was intended to be generic, and cover unpublished division-specific organisational charts of the kind that are commonly prepared for internal distribution within divisions or branches of large organisations, rather than just the Department-wide organisational chart.

If such a document exists that describes organisational units within the Resource Management Branch, indicating the area within the branch responsible for electoral policy, I would consider the latest version thereof to satisfy my request.

As such, I won't withdraw this part of my request. As per my original request, I would be happy to exclude any parts of such a document that give contact details, as well as names of employees that are EL1 or below. I would also be happy to exclude any parts of such a document that are not relevant to electoral policy.

Regarding Part 2 - I am very surprised that producing a list of file titles from the Department's EDRMS system is regarded as an unreasonable diversion of resources. Such metadata is regularly exported by all Commonwealth departments, covering a much broader scope, twice a year, for the purposes of producing Harradine/Senate Order 12 reports.

I would be prepared to narrow the scope of my request to cover files created from 1 January 2020 onwards, rather than 2017. This should significantly reduce the required processing time.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

Thank you for your email, which has been forwarded to the Department’s FOI
Team for their consideration. A member of the FOI Team will respond to
your email in the next couple of days.

 

Kind regards

 

FOI Coordinator

 

Dear Jonathan,

I think you've attached the wrong notice, it contains details of someone else's request along with someone else's name and postal address...

Yours sincerely,

Andrew

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

Thank you for your email, which has been forwarded to the Department’s FOI
Team for their consideration. A member of the FOI Team will respond to
your email in the next couple of days.

 

Kind regards

 

FOI Coordinator

 

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

1 Attachment

SEC=OFFICIAL

Dear Andrew

Thank you for bringing that error to my attention. If possible, noting the right to know process, I kindly ask that you delete the previous correspondence.

Please see attached the correct request consultation notice.

Kind regards

Jonathan Messieh | FOI Officer
Legal and Assurance Branch
Business Enabling Services
Department of Finance
A: One Canberra Avenue, Forrest ACT 2603

SEC=OFFICIAL

show quoted sections

Dear Jonathan

I advise that I wish for the request to be processed as is.

As I have stated, the information that I seek is metadata of a kind that agencies are expected to produce on a regular basis as part of Senate Order 12 reports. I am unable to find any relevant files listed in the Department's Senate Order 12 reports for the period I have requested.

This implies that either:

a) there are no files belonging to the Electoral Policy Unit, in which case it should be a very quick exercise to refuse access on the grounds that the information does not exist (which may come as a surprise to the AEC officials who have been dealing with Finance on various critical policy measures during the time period I am enquiring about); or

b) the Department has been submitting non-compliant and incomplete reports to the Senate, in which case a diversion of resources in order to rectify this oversight in relation to one of the Department's functions seems quite justifiable.

I have already agreed to constrain the scope to a time period of under 3 years and I find it difficult to believe producing such a document from the Department's computer systems and then preparing that document for release would take over 40 hours.

The notice only gives a single ground for determining that a practical refusal reason exists, namely that the processing time is expected to exceed 40 hours. I note that the OAIC states (FOI Guidelines 3.119, with reference to the Commissioner's decision in Aloysia Brooks and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet [2015] AICmr 66 at [30]) that a request cannot be considered an unreasonable diversion of resources purely on the grounds of exceeding a 40 hour threshold without consideration of the other factors required to make a request a substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

Thank you for your email, which has been forwarded to the Department’s FOI
Team for their consideration. A member of the FOI Team will respond to
your email in the next couple of days.

 

Kind regards

 

FOI Coordinator

 

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

2 Attachments

SEC=OFFICIAL

Dear Andrew

Please see attached a decision in relation to your FOI request (our
reference FOI 22/42).

Kind regards

 

[1]cid:image001.jpg@01D20F6A.F1CA1B30

 

FOI Officer | Legal and Assurance Branch

Business Enabling Services

Department of Finance

E: [2][Finance request email]

A: One Canberra Avenue, Forrest ACT 2603

SEC=OFFICIAL

 

References

Visible links
2. mailto:[Finance request email]

Dear FOI Officer

Pursuant to section 54 of the FOI Act, I request an internal review of the decision in the matter FOI 22/42.

I draw the attention of the reviewer to my earlier correspondence regarding this matter. Unless there are some fundamental peculiarities of the Department's record-keeping practices that I am unaware of, I regard the decision maker's estimate of 148 hours of decision making time to be far beyond any reasonable timeframe for reading through the results of a query to the Department's EDRMS system.

For the avoidance of all possible doubt, as I believe I have made clear in the terms of my request and subsequent correspondence, I am not asking for the contents of the relevant files, but rather a document created (in accordance with section 17 of the Act) from the Department's EDRMS system, that merely contains a list of relevant files (i.e. a list of file numbers and titles).

I thank you for your consideration.

Regards

Andrew

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

Thank you for your email, which has been forwarded to the Department’s FOI
Team for their consideration. A member of the FOI Team will respond to
your email in the next couple of days.

 

Kind regards

 

FOI Coordinator

 

FOI Requests, Department of Finance

1 Attachment

SEC=OFFICIAL

Dear Andrew

 

Freedom of Information Request – FOI 22/42 IR

Thank you for your email to the Department of Finance (Finance) requesting
an internal review of an access decision made by Finance under the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

 

The reasons you provided for seeking a review were as follows:

I draw the attention of the reviewer to my earlier correspondence
regarding this matter. Unless there are some fundamental peculiarities of
the Department's record-keeping practices that I am unaware of, I regard
the decision maker's estimate of 148 hours of decision making time to be
far beyond any reasonable timeframe for reading through the results of a
query to the Department's EDRMS system.

 

For the avoidance of all possible doubt, as I believe I have made clear in
the terms of my request and subsequent correspondence, I am not asking for
the contents of the relevant files, but rather a document created (in
accordance with section 17 of the Act) from the Department's EDRMS system,
that merely contains a list of relevant files (i.e. a list of file numbers
and titles).

 

Your request for internal review was received by Finance on Thursday 28
July 2022. The statutory period for processing your internal review
commences from the day after Finance received your review and a decision
is due on Monday 29 August 2022..

 

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.

 

Publication

As required by the FOI Act, any documents provided to you under the FOI
Act will be published on our [1]disclosure log, unless an exemption
applies or the documents are characterised as containing personal
information. Documents will be published within one working day after they
are released to you.

 

Policy to exclude junior officer contact details and signatures

Finance has adopted a policy to generally exclude from any documents
released under FOI, the names and contact details of junior staff (non-SES
officers) and staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act
1984 (adviser level and below). Finance has also adopted a policy to
exclude signatures from any documents released under FOI (unless publicly
available). Finance’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, as well as
any signatures appearing in identified documents, will be 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.

 

Kind regards

 

[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D20F6A.F1CA1B30

 

FOI Officer | Legal and Assurance Branch

Business Enabling Services

Department of Finance

E: [3][Finance request email]

A: One Canberra Avenue, Forrest ACT 2603

SEC=OFFICIAL

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.finance.gov.au/about-us/free...
3. mailto:[Finance request email]

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Andrew please sign in and let everyone know.