Foster correspondence with Lloyd and Connell

APS made this Freedom of Information request to Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The request was refused by Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

From: APS

Delivered

Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

I refer to Ms Stephanie Foster’s (Deputy Secretary, Governance at DPMC) testimony of 22 May 2018 before the Australian Senate’s Finance and Public Administration Committee, recorded in Hansard here: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/down...

At page 43 of Hansard, when questioned by Senator Wong as to whether there was an investigation underway into a complaint made to DPMC concerning the Public Service Commissioner (Mr John Lloyd), Ms Foster responded:

“Not to my knowledge, but I would have to caveat that by saying that PM&C's role was completed by referring the allegation and that we have no ongoing role in any inquiry.”

But later in the hearing, when Senator Wong questioned whether Mr Lloyd had communicated with anyone at DPMC in relation to the complaint, Ms Foster responded (page 47):

“Mr Lloyd and I—or it might have been the deputy commissioner and I; I can't remember which—had some conversation when we both had media queries last week.”

Noting Ms Foster’s comment that after referring the allegation received by DPMC, that DPMC has no ongoing role in the inquiry, it seems inappropriate that Ms Foster would then contact Mr Lloyd and/or the Ms Connell (the Deputy Public Service Commissioner) in relation to that allegation and potential investigation. That course of action is of questionable probity and raises issues concerning Ms Foster’s compliance with the obligations imposed on her by the Public Service Act 1999.

I note that prior to joining DPMC, Ms Foster was John Lloyd’s deputy in Lloyd’s ongoing, Institute of Public Affairs sponsored, attack on the working conditions and living standards of rank and file public servants.

Under the FOI Act, I seek access to email correspondence, falling between the period of 30/10/17 to the date of this application:

i) between Ms Stephanie Foster and Mr John Lloyd (including email documents sent by Ms Foster to Mr Lloyd and email documents sent by Mr Lloyd to Ms Foster); and

ii) between Ms Stephanie Foster and Ms Jenet Connell (including email documents sent by Ms Foster to Ms Connell and email documents sent by Ms Connell to Ms Foster).

Documents falling within the scope of my request can be quickly identified and retrieved by searching all items (including archived items) in Ms Foster's email account profile according to persons sent to, and received from.

I am willing to agree to DPMC redacting, from any relevant document, the personal information of any person mentioned in that document, except where that person was, at the relevant time: i) a public servant; or ii) a member of parliament. Noting paragraphs 6.153-6.154 of the FOI guidelines, this refinement of my request should negate any need for DPMC to consult with any third parties under s.27A of the FOI Act.

Finally, I note DPMC’s systemic practice of the contravening the requirements of the FOI Act. A contravention of the FOI Act constitutes disclosable conduct for the purposes of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 and I would urge DPMC staff to reflect on that when processing this application.

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From: FOI
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Thank you for your email dated 26 May 2018, received by the Department of
the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department), in which you made a
request to the Department under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the
FOI Act) in the following terms:

 

Under the FOI Act, I seek access to email correspondence, falling between
the period of 30/10/17 to the date of this application:

 

i)          between Ms Stephanie Foster and Mr John Lloyd (including email
documents sent by Ms Foster to Mr Lloyd and email documents sent by Mr
Lloyd to Ms Foster); and

 

ii)         between Ms Stephanie Foster and Ms Jenet Connell (including
email documents sent by Ms Foster to Ms Connell and email documents sent
by Ms Connell to Ms Foster).

 

Documents falling within the scope of my request can be quickly identified
and retrieved by searching all items (including archived items) in Ms
Foster's email account profile according to persons sent to, and received
from.

 

I am willing to agree to DPMC redacting, from any relevant document, the
personal information of any person mentioned in that document, except
where that person was, at the relevant time: i) a public servant; or ii) a
member of parliament. Noting paragraphs 6.153-6.154 of the FOI guidelines,
this refinement of my request should negate any need for DPMC to consult
with any third parties under s.27A of the FOI Act.

 

Timeframe for receiving your decision

 

We received your request dated 26 May 2018 and the 30 day statutory period
for processing your request commenced from the day after that date. You
should therefore expect a decision from us by 25 June 2018.  The period
of 30 days may be extended in certain circumstances. We will advise you if
there is any extension of time.

 

Charges

 

Agencies may decide that an applicant is liable to pay a charge in respect
of a request for access to documents. If the Department decides that you
are liable to pay a charge, we will send you a preliminary assessment of
the charge as soon as possible.

 

Publication of documents

 

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be
published online on our disclosure log at
[1]http://www.dpmc.gov.au/pmc/accountabilit...,
subject to certain exceptions. If you think you might wish to raise any
objections to the publication of any of the information which may be
released to you please contact us by email at [2][DPMC request email]. If you do
wish to object to the publication of information, you would need to
provide supporting reasons.

 

Exclusion of officers’ names and contact details

 

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

·         any person’s signature;

·         the names and contact details of Australian Public Service
officers not in the Senior Executive Service (SES);

·         the mobile or direct numbers of SES officers;

·         the names and contact details of Ministerial staff at a level
below Chief of Staff.

 

The names and other details of SES officers will not be withheld unless
there is some reason for that information to be exempt from release. If
you require signatures, the names and contact details of non-SES officers
or Ministerial staff below the level of Chief of Staff, or the mobile or
direct numbers of SES officers please let us know at [3][DPMC request email] so
the decision-maker may consider within five working days. Otherwise we
will take it that you agree to that information being excluded from the
scope of your request (that is, the information will be treated as
irrelevant and redacted from any documents for release).

 

We will write again when the Department has more information. Further
information on FOI processing can be found at the website of the Office of
the Australian Information Commissioner at
[4]http://www.oaic.gov.au/foi-portal/about_....

 

Thank You,

 

Kind Regards,

FOI Adviser

Access and Administrative Review Section | Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

p. (02) 6271 5849

e. [5][DPMC request email] | w. [6]www.pmc.gov.au

One National Circuit Barton ACT 2600 | PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600

 

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From: FOI
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear APS

 

We write seeking clarification of the terms of your FOI request as
follows:

·         You specified the time frame for your request as ‘between the
period of 30/10/17 to the date of this application’. Ms Stephanie Foster
commenced as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet on 11 December 2017. It would be helpful if you would confirm that
the time frame for your FOI request is from 11 December 2017 to 26 May
2018.

·         It would also be helpful if you would confirm that you seek
email correspondence relating to the “allegation and potential
investigation” referred to in your email of 26 May 2018.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI Adviser

Access and Administrative Review Section | Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

p. (02) 6271 5849

e. [1][DPMC request email] | w. [2]www.pmc.gov.au

One National Circuit Barton ACT 2600 | PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600

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From: APS

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your email.

I'm wiling to narrow the relevant timeframe to the earlier of:

i) the day Ms Foster's DPMC email account was activated; or
ii) 11 December 2017

to 26 May 2018.

In relation to your second request - no, I'm not willing to confine my application in the manner preferred by DPMC. If Ms Foster has complied with her legal and ethical obligations in her email correspondence with Ms Connell and Mr Lloyd, Ms Foster has nothing to fear.

Yours sincerely,

APS

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From: FOI
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


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Attachment FOI 2018 098 Notice of estimated charges.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear APS

 

Please find attached a notice of estimated charges for your FOI request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Adviser

FOI and Privacy Section | Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

p. (02) 6271 5849

e. [1][DPMC request email] | w. [2]www.pmc.gov.au

One National Circuit Barton ACT 2600 | PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600

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References

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2. http://www.pmc.gov.au/
3. https://twitter.com/pmc_gov_au
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5. https://twitter.com/indigenous_gov
6. https://www.facebook.com/indigenous.gov....

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

Mostly I classify a response like this one to say "clarification requested" because the agency has told the applicant that some more information (or money!) is needed before the request will be processed. This time, I have put the response in the category of "refused" because it is about 9 months since the agency responded and the applicant does not appear to have made a follow-up. This does not mean that the agency will refuse the request when an application is made in the correct (required). Also, it is possible that the applicant did make a follow-up by email or by postal service but did not tell Right to Know.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet only: