Precise salaries paid to the APSC’s SES officers for FY14/15, FY15/16 and FY16/17

Name withheld made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Public Service Commission

The request was partially successful.

From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear Australian Public Service Commission (APSC),

The following is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act.

I am conducting research, across a range of Government agencies, into the Government's enterprise bargaining framework for the Commonwealth Public Service. Specifically, in the interests of equity and transparency, whether the Government's policy to reduce the living standards of rank and file public servants (that is, public servants who are not considered senior executive service staff ('SES')) also extends to SES public servants.

I refer the APSC to my FOI request made of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner here (the 'OAIC request'): https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p...

By this application I make the same request of the APSC albeit such that every reference to 'OAIC' in the OAIC request should be read as a reference to 'APSC' for the purposes of this request. I rely on all my submissions contained in the OAIC request, in support of this request made of the BOM under s.15 of the FOI Act.

I would appreciate if the APSC could process this application with the level of promptness and thoroughness that it usually reserves for requests from members of the Institute of Public Affairs.

Thanks.

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From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear Australian Public Service Commission (APSC),

I refer to my FOI request of 25 October 2017. That request contained some errors. I wish to withdraw it and substitute the following request in its place.

The following is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act.

I am conducting research, across a range of Government agencies, into the Government's enterprise bargaining framework for the Commonwealth Public Service. Specifically, in the interests of equity and transparency, whether the Government's policy to reduce the living standards of rank and file public servants (that is, public servants who are not considered senior executive service staff ('SES')) also extends to SES public servants.

I refer the APSC to my FOI request made of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner here (the 'OAIC request'): https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p...

By this application I make the same request of the APSC albeit such that every reference to 'OAIC' in the OAIC request should be read as a reference to the 'APSC' for the purposes of this request. I rely on all my submissions contained in the OAIC request, in support of this request made of the APSC under s.15 of the FOI Act.

I would appreciate if the APSC could process this application with the level of promptness and thoroughness that it usually reserves for requests from members of the Institute of Public Affairs.

Thanks.

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From: FOI
Australian Public Service Commission

Dear Applicant,

I refer to your request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the FOI Act), as below.

I note the withdrawal of your request dated 25 October 2017 and acknowledge receipt of your revised request dated 30 October 2017.

The statutory timeframe for responding to your request under the FOI Act is 30 days from the date of receipt, being 30 October 2017. This timeframe may be extended in certain circumstances. We will advise you if such circumstances arise.

The department will advise you if a charge is payable to process your request and the amount of any such charge as soon as practicable.

Should you have any questions in relation to your request, please contact the FOI team by reply email.

Kind regards,

FOI Officer
Legal Services

Australian Public Service Commission
Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600 GPO Box 3176, Canberra ACT 2601

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From: FOI
Australian Public Service Commission

Dear Applicant,

I write in relation to your FOI request dated 30 October 2017, as below.

As your request covers documents which contain another individual's personal information, the Commission is required to consult with those individual, under section 27A of the FOI Act, before making a decision on the release of those documents.

The consultation mechanism under section 27A applies when the Commission considers that the individual (or their representative) may wish to contend that the requested documents are exempt for reasons of personal privacy. The Commission will take into account any comments we receive from consulted individuals, however, the final decision about whether to grant you access to the documents you requested rests with the Commission.

Due to the aforementioned consultation, the timeframe for processing your request has been extended by 30 days in order to allow our agency time to consult with the relevant individuals, pursuant to section 15(6) of the FOI Act.

Regards,

FOI Officer
Legal Services

Australian Public Service Commission
Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600 GPO Box 3176, Canberra ACT 2601

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From: FOI
Australian Public Service Commission


Attachment Correspondence C17 2064.pdf
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Dear Applicant,

Please find attached correspondence relating to your request.

Regards,

FOI Officer
Legal Services

Australian Public Service Commission
Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600 GPO Box 3176, Canberra ACT 2601

show quoted sections

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Verity Pane left an annotation ()

Given the recent previous Public Service Commissioner’s hostility to FOI laws, this ridiculous charges assessment by the APSC is no surprise http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national...

Not much has changed with the new Commissioner it appears.

The APSC has previously fought FOI on salaries to it’s SES officers previously http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national...

The untenable part with the charges estimate is that the number of substantive SES officers is about twelve, and annual salary paid is reflected in existing payroll data (essentially the number can be lifted from the Annual Payment Summary data) so the search time involved is minimal, similarly the assessment time is also minimal because while salary information is related to an individual, it is not *about* an individual (which is necessary for it to fall into the meaning of personal information as defined by the Privacy Act) and in this case it is official government information, not personal information.

Just as metadata from your phone is not personal information, neither is your pay data. It does not reflect your personal opinions, belief, or views, nor is it directly about you.

It is a well established principle that SES(E) officers in agencies are subject to higher disclosure levels, and technically official information, whether related to an SES or not, is corporate information, not personal information. It’s only when it starts directly being information about you, outside of the corporate context, that personal information applies (ie. your home address is not corporate information, even if it may be contained within official files).

The estimate is excessive and clearly meant to dissuade the applicant from proceeding. It is therefore highly inappropriate.

Of note, salary data is already publicly published in Annual Reports, Remuneration Tribunal decisions, and Workplace Agreements, in terms of ranges etc, further weakening such ridiculous assessments (because the information has already been complied as part of these processes).

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From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Pursuant to subparagraph 29(1)(f)(ii) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) I write to notify the Australian Public Service Commission (the APSC) of my contention that the preliminary charge of $235 imposed by way of the APSC’s letter of 15 November 2017 in respect of my request has been wrongly assessed and should be reduced or not imposed.

In support of my contention I refer the APSC to the authoritative guidance given by the Information Commissioner (the IC) in 'MZ' and Department of Communications and the Arts (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 109 on the same request as the present one, albeit made of a different agency. The IC's decision in that matter is available here: http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgibin/viewdo...

Upon examination of that decision, the APSC will note the following:
• the IC’s emphasis of the importance of the object of the FOI Act set out at subsection 3(4) which states Parliament’s intention ‘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’ (at [16]);
• the IC’s statement at paragraph [15] of his decision that ‘ […] if a payroll report or other summary document could be produced that would meet the terms of the request I consider that producing such a document may reasonably serve to somewhat reduce the request processing burden on the Department’
• the IC’s statement at paragraph [24] of his decision that ‘in previous IC review decisions I have generally accepted an estimate between 30 seconds per page and 5 minutes per page as a reasonable estimate of the time required to assess and apply the relevant exemptions to the documents’;
• the IC’s statement at paragraph [26] of his decision that ‘I consider that the consultation and editing processes would be relatively streamlined given the apparent general uniformity between each of the payment summaries and each of the request consultation notices. In this regard, I note that a typical payment summary is a single page document’;
• the IC’s statement at paragraphs [33] – [34] of his decision that:

‘In this IC review, I consider that marking up and editing irrelevant material should not take much more than 1 minute per payment summary. Given that the Department has identified 33 relevant officers and there appears to be a maximum of three payment summaries per officer, I am satisfied that an estimate of 99 minutes, or a little over an hour and a half would be a reasonable estimate of the time required to complete this task.

For these reasons, I am satisfied that a reasonable estimate of the time it will take the Department to fully process the request is 17.5 hours, and not the 40 hours that the Department found.’

I note that the number of staff at the APSC categorised as SES officers amounts to approximately 20%-25% of the number of SES staff at the Department at issue in the IC’s decision in Information Commissioner in 'MZ' and Department of Communications and the Arts (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 109. Accordingly, any charge imposed by the APSC in respect of processing my request should reflect 20%-25% (or less) of the time the IC has expertly and authoritatively determined as appropriate for the Department to process the request the subject of the IC’s decision in Information Commissioner in 'MZ' and Department of Communications and the Arts (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 109.

It is also relevant to note the APSC’s decision here: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/g... in respect of an FOI application the same as this one (other than the financial years concerned), whereby the APSC processed the application, including by providing redacted copies of the relevant payment summaries requested, without imposing a charge.

In considering this notice, I remind the decision-maker of his/her responsibilities under the Public Service Act 1999 which relevantly requires the decision maker to behave ethically, honestly, apolitically, transparently, with integrity and in compliance with the law.

I have been unable to determine the decision-maker’s name from the APSC’s correspondence in relation to this matter. Could the APSC advise me of the name of the authorised decision-maker for this matter – I understand that person to be the APSC’s acting General Counsel.

Thanks

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From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I refer to my email to the APSC of 28 November 2017 which: i) contested the preliminary charges assessed by the APSC in respect of this matter; and ii) sought the name of the decision-maker in relation to this matter (that person being the APSC's acting General Counsel).

While I understand the APSC is considering the first aspect of my email, noting the requirements imposed on APSC staff (including the APSC's acting General Counsel) by way of subsections 10(4) and 13(1) of the Public Service Act 1999, could the APSC please provide me with the name of the decision-maker for this matter (ie. the APSC's acting General Counsel).

thanks.

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From: FOI
Australian Public Service Commission


Attachment Signed Decision.PDF.pdf
423K Download View as HTML


For Official Use Only

Dear Applicant,

 

Please find attached correspondence relating to your request.

 

Regards,

 

 

FOI Officer

Legal Services

 

Australian Public Service Commission

Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600 GPO Box 3176,
Canberra ACT 2601

 

 

Important: This email remains the property of the Commonwealth and is
subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914. It may
contain confidential or legally privileged information. If you think it
was sent to you by mistake, please delete all copies and advise the
sender.

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From: Name withheld

Delivered

Thank you for your email.

In your decision letter you state that the APSC would be willing to release, administratively: a) payment summaries released under my previous FOI request, and b) a link to data published on the APSC's website. Further, you state that "[r]elease of these documents to you under administrative access arrangements would be in satisfaction of your FOI request; accordingly we would ask that you withdraw your present FOI request"

I'm unsure of the basis upon which you conclude that the release of such material "would be in satisfaction of [my] FOI request" given that: a) the payment summary information the subject of my FOI application currently before the APSC concerns different payment periods to that covered by my previous request, and b) the documents to which you refer are publicly available.

In order to resolve this matter, I am amenable to the APSC providing copies of relevant group certificates or otherwise a payroll report or other summary document with the names of the relevant SES officers redacted but only on the condition that each relevant officer's name be replaced by a single unique identifier such that each relevant SES officer's precise salary can be tracked over the three relevant financial years (eg. SES officer #1, SES officer #2, SES officer #3 etc).

In considering this matter you may wish to refer to FOI practices of Government agencies that process FOI requests in accordance with the objects and spirit of the FOI Act. For example, see:

https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p...

https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/g...

https://www.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/fil...

https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p...

https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p...

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From: FOI
Australian Public Service Commission

For Official Use Only
Dear applicant,

I refer to our correspondence dated 22 December 2017 and to your email below.

Paragraph 40 of the above mentioned correspondence requires that you provide a written response in accordance to one of the four options listed at paragraph 39. Further, it is stated that if you do not take such action within 30 days of receiving the correspondence, that your request will be taken to have been withdrawn.

In your email below you have restated the terms of your FOI request. You have not indicated which of the four options you wish to take.

Please refer to our correspondence of 22 December 2017 and advise the Commission by 22 January 2018 of your intention.

Regards,

FOI Officer
Legal Services

Australian Public Service Commission
Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600 GPO Box 3176, Canberra ACT 2601

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From: FOI
Australian Public Service Commission

For Official Use Only
Dear applicant,

I refer to our correspondence dated 22 December 2017 and to your email below.

Paragraph 40 of the above mentioned correspondence requires that you provide a written response in accordance to one of the four options listed at paragraph 39. Further, it is stated that if you do not take such action within 30 days of receiving the correspondence, that your request will be taken to have been withdrawn.

In your email below you have restated the terms of your FOI request. You have not indicated which of the four options you wish to take.

Please refer to our correspondence of 22 December 2017 and advise the Commission by 22 January 2018 of your intention.

Regards,

FOI Officer
Legal Services

Australian Public Service Commission
Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600 GPO Box 3176, Canberra ACT 2601

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From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your email. My email to the APSC of 4 January 2018 was for the purposes of:
i) notifying the APSC of deficiencies contained within its decision letter of 22 December 2017; and
ii) offering, in good faith, a compromise mechanism by which this dispute can be resolved (noting the established wide and prevailing public interest in knowing precisely how much senior public servants receive in public funding for performing public duties).

I understand your email of 9 January 2018 amounts to a rejection of my offer to resolve this dispute.

I note the APSC’s comments that “paragraph 40 of the [notice given by the APSC on 22 December 2017] requires that you provide a written response in accordance to one of the four options listed at paragraph 39. Further, it is stated that if you do not take such action within 30 days of receiving the correspondence, that your request will be taken to have been withdrawn.”

These APSC imposed ‘requirements’ appear to differ from the relevant obligations set out in the FOI Act. That notwithstanding, I remain of the view that the preliminary charge imposed by the APSC in respect of my request has been wrongly assessed and should be reduced or not imposed.

I further note that, pursuant to subsection 29(9) of the FOI Act, the APSC’s notice of 22 December 2017 was required to “state the name […] of the person making the decision”. I note that the authorised decision maker has provided an illegible signature but has failed to state their name as required by law. Could you please provide me with the name of the authorised-decision maker for this matter.

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From: FOI
Australian Public Service Commission

For Official Use Only
Dear Applicant,

Susannah, Acting General Counsel made the decision released to you on 22 December 2017.

We refer again to the various options noted in our correspondence and invite you to take action accordingly within the relevant timeframes.

Regards,

FOI Officer
Legal Services

Australian Public Service Commission
Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600 GPO Box 3176, Canberra ACT 2601

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From: FOI
Australian Public Service Commission


Attachment Document released.pdf
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Attachment Decision c17 2064.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED
Good afternoon FOI Applicant.

Please find attached relevant correspondence relating to your FOI request as detailed below.

Regards

FOI Coordinator

Australian Public Service Commission
Level 4, B Block, Treasury Building
Parkes Place West, Parkes ACT 2600
Email: [email address]

Important: This e-mail is for the use of the intended recipients only and may contain information that is confidential, commercially valuable and/or subject to legal privilege. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that any review, re-transmission,
disclosure, dissemination or other use of, or taking any action in reliance upon this information is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete all electronic and hard copies of this transmission together with any attachments.

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