Polices about the use of "SecureMail"

Ben Fairless made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Human Services

The request was partially successful.

From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear Department of Human Services,

Would it be possible to get a copy of all current policies and guidelines issued regarding the use of SecureMail.

I would also like a copy of any guide issued by the Department for it's officers in the use of SecureMail.

When I refer to SecureMail, I am referring to the web service hosted at https://securemail.humanservices.gov.au/... and any software which communicates with the above.

Please deal with this request informally or in accordance with your Administrative Access scheme if practicable. If this isn't practical, please consider it a formal application under the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Fairless

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


Attachment Acknowledgement LEX 12159 Fairless.pdf
51K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Fairless,

Please see attached correspondence relating to your request under the
Freedom of Information Act 1982.

If you have any queries, please email
[1][DHS request email].

Kind regards

 

FOI Officer

FOI Team

Freedom of Information & Information Release Branch | Legal Services
Division
Department of Human Services

 

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear FOI.LEGAL.TEAM,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Is there any reason this request can't be processed informally, under Administrative Access?

Thanks,

Ben Fairless

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services

Dear Mr Fairless,

Thank you for your email.

As indicated in response to your email regarding LEX 12160, at this preliminary stage, the department does not consider administrative release to be practicable or appropriate. It is necessary to undertake consultations with the business area who owns the documents within the scope of your request prior to making a decision regarding administrative access.

The department will contact you to discuss administrative access, should it be appropriate.

If you have any further queries, please email [DHS request email].

Kind regards

FOI Officer
FOI Team
Freedom of Information & Information Release Branch | Legal Services Division
Department of Human Services

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


Attachment Charges letter LEX 12159 Fairless.pdf
53K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Fairless,

Please see attached correspondence relating to your request under the
Freedom of Information Act 1982.

If you have any queries, please contact
[1][DHS request email].

 

Kind regards

 

FOI Officer

FOI Team

Freedom of Information & Information Release Branch | Legal Services
Division
Department of Human Services

 

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Culley Palmer left an annotation ()

I wonder who or what the "business area that owns the document" is...

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear FOI.LEGAL.TEAM,

I am happy to make a payment via EFT. Can you please advise your EFT details?

Yours sincerely,

Ben Fairless

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services

Dear Mr Fairless,

As indicated in paragraph 10 of the department's letter dated 24 February, the only methods for payment are by cheque or money order. Unfortunately, the department does not have electronic payment facilities for Freedom of Information charges.

I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
FOI Team
Freedom of Information & Information Release Branch | Legal Services Division
Department of Human Services

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear FOI Officer,

In that case, I contend that the charges imposed are excessive, and should not be imposed.

The requirement for Money Order or Cheque is an unreasonable burden
===================================================
As of the date of this email, it is $10 to obtain a cheque from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and $8.95 for a Money Order. These additional expenses essentially jack up the price of this request by over 50%.

The Department and it's officers are be fully aware that the use of Money Orders and Cheques is on the decline in Australia. Australia has had access to EFT since the early 90's, and BPAY has been available in Australia since 1997.

As far as I am aware, the Department no longer conducts cheque or money order transactions with clients of Centrelink. I also doubt that the Department pays it's suppliers via Cheque or Money Order.

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) relevantly states at s.3(4):

"The Parliament also intends that functions and powers given by this Act are to be performed and exercised, as far as possible, to facilitate and promote public access to information, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost."

4.3 of the FOI Guidelines relevantly state:
"A charge must not be used to discourage an applicant from exercising the right of access conferred by the FOI Act."

The Department's failure to accept EFT would appear to be an attempt to discourage applicants from excising their rights under the Freedom of Information Act. As I have demonstrated above, the Department already has EFT processes in place for the payment of Suppliers and Clients of the Department.

Release under IPS
================

In addition to my contentions above, I contend that this information should be released at no cost under the Information Publication Scheme.

The Department has used the SecureMail system at least 3 times which are visible on the Right to Know website:

https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/d...
https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/m...
https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/a...

The policies involved in using this service would constitute information that should be released under the IPS.

The OAIC relevantly states that the below information should be released under IPS:
"the agency's operational information, which is information that assists the agency to exercise its functions or powers in making decisions or recommendations that affect members of the public. This includes the agency's rules, guidelines, practices and precedents relating to those decisions and recommendations."

The use of this system to communicate with people and to impede the ability of others to see public requests for information would be a "function in making decisions or recommendations that affect members of the public".

Additonal Point not related to my contentions
=======================================
I note at paragraph 13 you state (emphasis added):
"If you believe that payment of the charge would cause your ***organisation*** financial hardship, please provide sufficient details of your financial circumstances to enable the decision-maker to make a well-informed decision in this regard."

Whilst I know I have had contact with the Department in my capacity as a volunteer on the Right to Know website, I want to make it clear that this request is made in my capacity as an individual user of Right to Know website.

This request (and all other requests made via the Right to Know website) are not made on behalf of Right to Know, or the OpenAustralia Foundation (the charity that runs Right to Know).

Summary
==========
For the above reasons, I request that the charges:
- not be imposed, as the information should be released under IPS
- If the information is not released under the IPS, the charge should not be imposed as the method of payment offered is inconsistent with the objectives and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Fairless

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Alex Sadleir left an annotation ()

When DHS/Centrelink require someone to repay money, they offer Direct Debit and BPAY as well EFTPOS and cash via Australia Post POSTbillpay http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer...

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear FOI Officer,

Please acknowledge my contentions RE charges sent to you on February 25, 2015 and available online: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p...

Yours sincerely,

Ben Fairless

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services

Dear Mr Fairless,

I acknowledge the receipt of your email dated 25 February.

Please note that under section 29(6) of the Freedom of Information Act the department has 30 days from the day after the date on which you contended that the charge should be reduced or not imposed to notify you of a decision in relation to the charge.

If you have any further queries, please email [DHS request email].

Kind regards

FOI Officer
FOI Team
Freedom of Information & Information Release Branch | Legal Services Division
Department of Human Services

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Link to this

From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


Attachment Charges decision letter LEX 12159 Fairless.pdf
80K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Fairless,

Please see attached correspondence relating to your request under the
Freedom of Information Act 1982.

If you have any queries, please email [DHS request email].

Kind regards

 

FOI Officer

FOI Team

Freedom of Information & Information Release Branch | Legal Services
Division
Department of Human Services

 

show quoted sections

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear Department of Human Services,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Human Services's handling of my FOI request 'Polices about the use of "SecureMail"'.

Firstly, I disagree with paragraphs 21-23 of the decision letter.

The Department contends that the documents "are not relied on to make administrative decisions and on that basis they do not affect members of the public."

But the decision to use this method of communication, for example in relation to the Right to Know website, does affect members of the public (who, for example, may wish to see how the Department is responding to FOI requests). These guidelines would, I presume, advise officers on appropriate times to use the service (and potentially appropriate times not to use the service). These would therefore affect the judgement of an officer in using the service, and would be useful to determine if officers of the Department have failed to comply with Departmental Guidelines.

Further, I disagree with the statements made in paragraph 24 to 26 of the letter issued by the Department.

The Department says that it "indicated that the Charge should be paid by cheque or money order made out to the Collector of Public Monies." and that it could not accept payment for FOI charges because "these payments cannot be identified as FOI charges in the context of the other monies the department collects".

In case the Department was not aware, BPay Payments can be made with a unique reference number, as can payments made via EFT. Furthermore, if I was to send a cheque to the Department, it would have to deposit that cheque into a Bank Account (I would not be issuing a cheque that could be cashed into cash).

If the Department is going to deposit my cheque into a bank account, why can I not directly pay into the bank account with a unique reference (such as the FOI Reference number), and provide a receipt of payment. This is both cheaper for the Department and cheaper for me.

Surely it is not outside the realm of possibility for the Department to find a payment via a unique reference number?!

The Department allows it's clients to pay via a range of methods. I assume the Department also pays it's contractors via EFT. The arguments raised by the Department do not correspond to the technical features provided by EFT or BPAY to ensure that payments can be allocated against. I have yet to encounter an agency that refuses to accept payment via EFT (even the Department of Immigration found the means after a request on Right to Know - See https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/f... for details).

It is for the above reasons (and my earlier submission to the charges notification) that I contend that the charges should be reduced or not imposed.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

Ben Fairless

Link to this

From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


Attachment Updated Internal Review Decision Charges LEX 12669.pdf
206K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Fairless,

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your internal review
request.

 

Kind regards,

 

FOI Delegate

FOI and Information Release Branch

Legal Services Division

Department of Human Services

 

 

Link to this

From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


Attachment Updated Internal Review Decision Charges LEX 12814.pdf
285K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Fairless,

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your internal review
request.

 

Kind regards,

 

FOI Delegate

FOI and Information Release Branch

Legal Services Division

Department of Human Services

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


Attachment LEX 12159 Fairless documents for release.pdf
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Attachment Decision LEX 12159 Fairless.pdf
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Dear Mr Fairless,

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your request for access
to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

 

Kind regards,

 

FOI Delegate

FOI Team

FOI and Litigation Branch | Legal Services Division

Department of Human Services

Email: [1][email address]

[2]www.humanservices.gov.au

 

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal
professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or
confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are
prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have
received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately
and permanently delete this email.

 

 

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