Extracts of applications for statistics on universities

P. Gale made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

The request was successful.

From: P. Gale

Delivered

To: The FOI Contact Officer
Department of Industry ... and Tertiary Education

Dear FOI Contact Officer,

This is a request under the FOI Act for documents.

Your department's web-site says institutions and individuals can apply for statistics about university students, university enrollments and other information collected by you. I'm interested in what requests you've gotten for university statistics in the last year or so. I request documents (details below) in regards to applications you have received for university statistics.

Please interpret “you”, “your”, etc. to refer to the Department of Industry, Innovation … and Tertiary Education. Please interpret "document" to mean "documents" where necessary or appropriate and to include electronic documents as appropriate. Please interpret "apply, "application", "request" as the same. Please interpret "statistics" broadly so to include any quantitative information that you get out of its university statistics databases to answer inquiries about universities, students, enrollments and so on.

Documents I request:
--------------------------
1. I request a copy (or extract) of each statistics application received by your department between November 1st, 2012 and now.
2. In regards to each application in dot-point 1, I also request a copy (or extract) of any document that explains what data, statistics or information you actually supplied to the applicant. For example, that could be an extract from an email you sent to an applicant with the data saying something like "You asked for [summary of request]. We're sending you a tabulation of [description of tabulation]".
3. In regards to each application in point 1, I also request a copy (or extract) of any document (maybe part of a reply to the applicant) that says how the statistics were supplied in. E.g., spreadsheet for Excel, PDF list, plain email, etc.
4. In regards to points 1, 2, and 3, I request only the part(s) of the applications and response that describe what data, information or statistics was required by the applicant and what you supplied. I'm not asking for any document part that says who the institution or person was that make the application, or says why the applicant wanted the statistics.
4. If you completely refused an application for statistics, then I don't need any information about the application or your reply.
5. It is OK to me if it is easier for you to answer my FOI request by giving me a summary table of the essential information, instead of actual copies of documents.

Thank you.

P. Gale (Mrs)
August 17th, 2013.

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From: Freedom of Information

Dear Mrs Gale,

We refer to your email of 17 August 2013 for access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to the following:

“…what requests you've gotten for university statistics in the last year or so. I request documents (details below) in regards to applications you have received for university statistics….Documents I request:
1. I request a copy (or extract) of each statistics application received by your department between November 1st, 2012 and now.
2. In regards to each application in dot-point 1, I also request a copy (or extract) of any document that explains what data, statistics or information you actually supplied to the applicant. For example, that could be an extract from an email you sent to an applicant with the data saying something like "You asked for[summary of request]. We're sending you a tabulation of [description of tabulation]".
3. In regards to each application in point 1, I also request a copy(or extract) of any document (maybe part of a reply to the applicant) that says how the statistics were supplied in. E.g.,spreadsheet for Excel, PDF list, plain email, etc.
4. In regards to points 1, 2, and 3, I request only the part(s) of the applications and response that describe what data, information or statistics was required by the applicant and what you supplied. I'm not asking for any document part that says who the institution or person was that make the application, or says why the applicant wanted the statistics.
4. If you completely refused an application for statistics, then I don't need any information about the application or your reply.
5. It is OK to me if it is easier for you to answer my FOI request by giving me a summary table of the essential information, instead of actual copies of documents”.”.

We confirm that your request will be processed in accordance with the FOI Act.

The statutory timeframe for processing your request commenced on 18 August 2013, being the day after the department received your request. You will be notified of a decision on access as soon as practicable.

If you have any queries please contact the FOI team at [email address].

FOI Team
Legal Branch | Corporate Division
Department of Industry, Innovation,
Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
GPO Box 9839, 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.

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From: Freedom of Information


Attachment DIISR13 16745 Notice of Intention to refuse request on practical refusal grounds.pdf
202K Download View as HTML


Dear Mrs Gale,

 

Please find attached correspondence dated 4 September 2013 in response to
your Freedom of Information request of 17 August 2013.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the FOI Team.

 

FOI Team

Legal Branch | Corporate Division

Department of Industry, Innovation,

Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

GPO Box 9839, 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.

 

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

To: The FOI Contact Officer
Department of Industry ... and Tertiary Education

Dear FOI Contact Officer,

In regards to your reference DIISR13 16745.

Thank you for your letter advising me of the decision maker's intention to refuse my application on practical refusal grounds. There are two things I'd like to raise.

(1) It would be helpful if you could provide some information as to how I might sensibly limit the scope of my request. Although your letter gives an estimate of the number of hours and folios involved in answering my request, it does not give any indication of how many requests for statistics are being talked about, so I can't easily say "Please limit my FOI request to the latest 10 statistics applications you've gotten."

(2) The estimates seem to me to be incredibly, and unjustifiably, high, like someone blindly used the spreadsheet from the Department of Finance to make the estimates without really having a look at what I'm asking for. For example, the Finance spreadsheet mentions 45 minutes to search and tag pages in each relevant file but it's not going to take someone anything like that because I have said very clearly what small piece of each statistics application I want access to. Clearly that does not require detailed examination of every page of the application; neither can there be much (a couple of minutes perhaps) to find the relevant paragraph on the relevant page of the pro-forma application. It also does not requiire detailed decision making time. Also, I have said that I do not want access to any information about the institution of individual who made a statistics application and I don't want any information about why they sought the information ... so the need for any consultation is effectively eliminated.

Consequently it would be a really great help to me in limiting the scope of my application if you could:
(1) Give me an estimate of the number of actual statistics applications that are relevant to the request as I originally wrote it, so that I can reduce that number (or the time period I asked about) appropriately;
(2) Consider the possibility that the decision maker has grossly overestimated (by perhaps as much as a factor of 20) the time involved
(3) Let me know whether it would bring the scope of my application down to a reasonable size if I withdraw my request for extracts of the original statistics applications and confined my request only to your final responses to the applications. That would essentially eliminate point 1 of my original request and instead focus on documents that contained a statement of what statistics you finally supplied and a statement of the document format that you supplied the statistics in.
(4) If you have an internal report that summarises the kind of documents and document extracts that I requested, then that would completely eliminate most of the work potentially involved in my request. I could then confine my FOI application to just that summary report.

If you think that there is anything else I should know to help me reduce the scope of my request, I would much appreciate it.

Thank you.

P. Gale (Mrs)
September 4th, 2013.

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From: Freedom of Information

Dear Mrs Gale,

 

We refer to email correspondence of 4 September 2013.

 

The department received over 1,000 requests for statistics for the
timeframe specified.  In your original request you did not specify a
particular category of statistics other than university statistics. As a
result it encompasses a high volume of data and material that fall within
the scope of your request.

 

Reducing the scope of your request to final responses would not reduce the
volume of work as it is still necessary for the department to go through
each file in order to ascertain the final response(s) provided.

 

Please note that the department does not maintain a database that
summaries the kind of information you requested.  To assist you to revise
the scope of your request, we make the following suggestions:

 

·         Please be specific of a category of university statistics, e.g.
(The number of students enrolled in undergraduate and postgraduate
journalism degrees in Australia in 2012 or a gender breakdown in
enrolments and completions in postgraduate economic courses in Australia
for the last 10 years) get some idea from line area) this may reduce the
scope of your request to a manageable task;

·         You may consider visiting the department’s statistics [1]website
or the [2]uCube site, which may provide the information you are seeking;
and

·         Alternatively, we could provide a sample document containing two
weeks of statistics that may be of interest.

 

Section 24AB(5) of the FOI Act provides that the contact person may, with
the applicant’s agreement, extend the consultation period by written
notice to the applicant.  Accordingly, we are seeking your agreement to
extend the consultation period by 14 days.  This extension allows us to
further assist you with this FOI request.

 

We look forward to hearing from you.  If you have any questions, please do
not hesitate to contact the FOI Team.

 

 

FOI Team

Legal Branch | Corporate Division

Department of Industry, Innovation,

Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

GPO Box 9839, 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.

 

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.innovation.gov.au/HigherEduca...
2. http://www.highereducationstatistics.dee...

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

To: The FOI Contact Officer
Department of Industry ... and Tertiary Education

Dear FOI Officer,

In regards to your reference DIISR13 16745 and to your letter of Tuesday, September 17th, 2013.

Thank you very much for your very informative reply and for your suggestions.

I would like to accept the suggestion you made near the end of your letter where you said, "Alternatively, we could provide a sample document containing two weeks of statistics that may be of interest." Your offer would give me exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

In regards to your request for more time, I agree to the extension you asked for even though you might not need it now.

Thank you again.

P. Gale (Mrs)
September 17th, 2013.

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From: Freedom of Information


Attachment DIISR13 16745 RFIs request list.pdf
90K Download View as HTML


Dear Mrs Gale,

We refer to your correspondence below of 17 September 2013.

As requested, please find attached a sample table summarising Requests for Information (RFI’s) received for the period 5-16 August 2013.

Given the resource implications of fulfilling this request, we are hopeful that this document details the information you are seeking.

We note that the consultation period is due to expire on Wednesday 2 October 2013. In accordance with subsection 24AB(6) of the FOI Act, prior to the end of the consultation period, please confirm one of the following options in writing:

a) Withdraw the request;
b) Make a revised request; or
c) Indicate that you do not wish to revise the request.

We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the FOI Team.

FOI Team
Legal Branch | Corporate Division
Department of Industry

Industry House
10 Binara Street, Canberra City ACT 2601
GPO Box 9839, Canberra ACT 2601
Email: [email address]
Internet: http://www.innovation.gov.au
ABN 74 599 608 295

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.

To: The FOI Contact Officer
Department of Industry ... and Tertiary Education

Dear FOI Officer,

In regards to your reference DIISR13 16745 and to your letter of
Tuesday, September 17th, 2013.

Thank you very much for your very informative reply and for your
suggestions.

I would like to accept the suggestion you made near the end of your
letter where you said, "Alternatively, we could provide a sample
document containing two weeks of statistics that may be of
interest." Your offer would give me exactly the kind of thing I was
looking for.

In regards to your request for more time, I agree to the extension
you asked for even though you might not need it now.

Thank you again.

P. Gale (Mrs)
September 17th, 2013.

show quoted sections

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

To: The FOI Contact Officer
Department of Industry ... and Tertiary Education

Dear FOI Officer,

In regards to your reference DIISR13 16745 and to your letter of Tuesday, October 1st, 2013.

Thank you very much for the summary that you sent me. It contains all the information that I am seeking at this stage. If you need me to state that I withdraw my original FOI request, please consider this to be a withdrawal.

I appreciate very much the suggestions that you made about limiting my original request to bring it within something that your office could manage.

Thank you again.

P. Gale (Mrs)
October 4th, 2013.

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P. Gale left an annotation ()

Ultimately this request was dealt with under an administrative access arrangement by the department. My original request involved many more documents than expected but the department made good suggestions about how to limit it. I thought they were still going to deal with it as FOI but they have found a simpler way to still give me something.

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

To: The FOI Contact Officer
Department of Industry ... and Tertiary Education

Dear FOI Officer,

In regards to your reference DIISR13 16745.

When I wrote you last Friday to thank you for sending me information on applications for university statistics, I'd taken only a quick look at your summary. Now I've had a real good look, I see it is even more comprehensive than I first thought. It will be of great assistance to my reportage.

Please extend my sincere thanks to whomever it was produced the summary and also to the person who authorized the release.

Sincerely,

P. Gale (Mrs)
October 7th, 2013.

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