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

Name withheld made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The request was partially successful.

From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (the Department),

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

Further, I am amenable to the Department providing copies of relevant group certificates or otherwise a payroll report or other summary document with the names of the relevant 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).

Thanks.

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

UNCLASSIFIED

Our Ref: 1802-F1874

Dear 'name withheld'

Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

Thank you for your e-mail below in which you seek access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to:

I refer the Department 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 Department albeit such that every reference to 'OAIC' in the OAIC request should be read as a reference to the 'Department'. I rely on all my submissions contained in the OAIC request, in support of this request made of the Department under s.15 of the FOI Act.

Further, I am amenable to the Department providing copies of relevant group certificates or otherwise a payroll report or other summary document with the names of the relevant 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).

This e-mail sets out some information about how your request will be processed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Searches are now being undertaken in relevant areas of the Department for documents relevant to your request.

Scope of request:
Please note that details of SES remuneration are publicly available on the DFAT website at http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/corporate/Pa.... This is the level of detail which the Departments considers could be provided without requiring an unreasonable diversion of resources. The Department considers that compiling and then redacting the group certificates of over 200 individuals, for the last three financial years, would require an unreasonable diversion of resources.

Further in relation to your request that data be amended to allow for the specific tracking of individuals, we note that the FOI Act does not require the creation of a document in response to a request. As it is not possible to extract data in this manner, this element of you request is outside the scope of the FOI Act.

Timeframe for receiving our decision:
We received your request on 8 February 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 13 March (noting that 11 March is the Sunday before a public holiday). The period of 30 days may be extended in certain circumstances. We will advise you if any extension of time is required.

Charges:
Please note that the Department issues charges for processing FOI requests. We will advise you of these charges when we are in a position to estimate the resources required to process your request.

Timing of release:
As the subject matter of your request will require DFAT to upload any documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, we take this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to upload documents to the disclosure log on the same day as the documents are released to you.

Exclusion of officials’ names and contact details:
It is the Department’s policy to withhold the mobile numbers of all government officials, and the names and contact details of government officials not in the Senior Executive Service (SES) or equivalent. If you require the mobile numbers of all government officials, or the names and contact details of non-SES officials, please let us know at [DFAT request email] so the decision-maker may consider; otherwise we will take it that you agree to that information being excluded from the scope of your request.

Personal Information:
If we need to consult with other people or organisations regarding your FOI request, we may need to disclose your personal information (e.g. your name). When we consult it may be apparent that you have made a request, even if we do not disclose your identity. Please let us know if you have any concerns in this regard. The Department’s privacy policy is available at dfat.gov.au/privacy.html.

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us by return e-mail at [DFAT request email].

Yours sincerely

DFAT FOI TEAM
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I withdraw my request made of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (the Department) on 8 February 2018 and substitute it with the following request made under section 15 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 Department 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 Department albeit such that every reference to 'OAIC' in the OAIC request should be read as a reference to the 'Department', and the each reference to 'SES officers' be read as a reference to the Department's SES Band 2 and SES Band 3 officers 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.

Further, I am amenable to the Department providing copies of relevant group certificates or otherwise a payroll report or other summary document with the names of the relevant SES Band 2 and 3 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).

I note the Department's comments in its email to me of 12 February 2018 as follows:

"[...] The Department considers that compiling and then redacting the group certificates of over 200 individuals, for the last three financial years, would require an unreasonable diversion of resources.

Further in relation to your request that data be amended to allow for the specific tracking of individuals, we note that the FOI Act does not require the creation of a document in response to a request. As it is not possible to extract data in this manner, this element of you request is outside the scope of the FOI Act."

I refer the Department to the Information Commissioner's authoritative guidance given in in 'MZ' and Department of Communications and the Arts (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 109 (27 October 2017): http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewd... (an IC review decision concerning an FOI request the same is this one but made of a different agency). Noting the Department has already made contentions concerning the resources required to process my request, the Department should note the following relevant aspects of the IC’s decision:

• 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.’

I would also urge the Department to carefully consider my submissions in my FOI request made of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner here (the 'OAIC request'): https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p... which set sout the established wide and countervailing public interest in knowing precisely how much senior public servants receive in public funding for performing public duties.

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

UNCLASSIFIED

Our Ref: 1802-F1882

Dear 'Name Withheld'

Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

Thank you for your e-mail below in which you withdrew your earlier request, reference 1802-F1874, and made a fresh request for access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to:

I refer the Department 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 Department albeit such that every reference to 'OAIC' in the OAIC request should be read as a reference to the 'Department', and the each reference to 'SES officers' be read as a reference to the Department's SES Band 2 and SES Band 3 officers 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.

Further, I am amenable to the Department providing copies of relevant group certificates or otherwise a payroll report or other summary document with the names of the relevant SES Band 2 and 3 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).

This e-mail sets out some information about how your request will be processed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Searches are now being undertaken in relevant areas of the Department for documents relevant to your request.

Scope of request:
If it emerges that the scope of your request is unclear or is too large for processing, the Department will contact you to discuss re-scoping the request.

Timeframe for receiving our decision:
We received your request on [insert date of receipt of request] 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 [insert due date for access decision (KMMS will calculate this for you)]. The period of 30 days may be extended in certain circumstances. We will advise you if any extension of time is required.

Charges:
Please note that the Department issues charges for processing FOI requests. We will advise you of these charges when we are in a position to estimate the resources required to process your request.

Timing of release:
As the subject matter of your request will require DFAT to upload any documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, we take this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to upload documents to the disclosure log on the same day as the documents are released to you.

Exclusion of officials’ names and contact details:
It is the Department’s policy to withhold the mobile numbers of all government officials, and the names and contact details of government officials not in the Senior Executive Service (SES) or equivalent. If you require the mobile numbers of all government officials, or the names and contact details of non-SES officials, please let us know at [DFAT request email] so the decision-maker may consider; otherwise we will take it that you agree to that information being excluded from the scope of your request.

Personal Information:
If we need to consult with other people or organisations regarding your FOI request, we may need to disclose your personal information (e.g. your name). When we consult it may be apparent that you have made a request, even if we do not disclose your identity. Please let us know if you have any concerns in this regard. The Department’s privacy policy is available at dfat.gov.au/privacy.html.

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us by return e-mail at [DFAT request email].

Yours sincerely

DFAT FOI TEAM
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment img 220160037 0001.pdf
84K Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED

Dear 'Name Withheld',

Please find attached the charges letter in relation to this request.

Yours sincerely,
DFAT FOI Team.

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Name withheld

Delivered

Thank you for your email. To assist me to determine whether the preliminary assessment of the charge notified has been properly determined in accordance with the principles expertly and authoritatively set out by the Information Commissioner in 'MZ' and Department of Communications and the Arts (Freedom of information) [2017]: http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewd... - could you please inform me of the number of SES Band 2 and 3 officers to whom my request applies.

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Name Withheld,

The current numbers of DFAT SES are available at http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/corporate/Pa..., which we had provided to you earlier.

Also, the breakdown of SES numbers by band is provided in DFAT;s Annual reports, which are available at: http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications...

Yours sincerely,
DFAT FOI Team.

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear FOI,

My FOI request relates to the precise amount of punlic funds paid to senior public servants categorised as SES band 2 and 3 officers at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in respect of their performance of public duties for particular financial years.

Despite that it would have been necessary for DFAT to know the precise number of relevant SES band 2 and 3 officers for the purposes of properly preparing a notice in accordance with the requirements of s.29(1) of the FOI Act (noting paragraph 29(1)(b)) in particular) - in response to my query dated 23 February (which simply requested that number), DFAT has directed me towards public documents which do not disclose the relevant number of SES band 2 and 3 officers.

At this point, it is appropriate to remind DFAT officers responsible for processing my request of their obligations under the Public Service Act 1999 - in particular, the obligation to behave honestly, with integrity, transparently, accountably, impartially and in accordance with the law.

Again, I request that DFAT inform me of the precise number of SES Band 2 and 3 officers to whom my request applies. Assuming DFAT has properly calculated the preliminary assessment of the charge in accordance with: i) the requirements of s.29(1) of the FOI Act; and ii) the principles expertly and authoritatively set out by the Information Commissioner in 'MZ' and Department of Communications and the Arts (Freedom of information) [2017], the requested figure should be readily available.

As an aside:
i) I note that the published information concerning the remuneration of DFAT's SES officers that the DFAT has referred me to is presented so broadly such that it is incapable of any detailed or sensible analysis - particularly when having regard to my request, part of the purpose for which is to determine the precise level of salary increases given to particular DFAT SES officers for a period in which rank and file DFAT staff have had their living standards reduced;

ii) I remind DFAT officers responsible for processing my request that the precise remuneration paid to senior public servants for performing public duties is a matter of wide and countervailing public interest. That is established by authority including that set out in Re Ricketson and Royal Women's Hospital (1989) 4 VAR 10; Re Forbes and Department of Premier & Cabinet (1993) 6 VAR 53; Re Stewart and Department of Transport (1993) 1 QAR 227; Re Thwaites and Metropolitan Ambulance Service (unreported, 13 June 1997); Re Milthorpe and Mt. Alexander Shire Council (1997) 12 VAR 105; Re National Tertiary Education Industry Union (Murdoch Branch) and Murdoch University; Ors [2001] WAICmr 1 and Asher and Department of State and Regional Development [2002] VCAT 609; and

iii) I also remind DFAT officers that I am amenable to the DFAT providing copies of relevant group certificates or otherwise a payroll report or other summary document with the names of the relevant 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).

Link to this

From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Notwithstanding that your notice to me of 20 February 2018 is invalid (including because it doesn't comply with the requirements of paragraph 29(1)(b) of the FOI Act), I am writing to further refine the scope of my request such that it relates only to DFAT’s SES Band 3 staff.

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment img 323135018 0001.pdf
70K Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED

 

Dear Name Withheld,

 

Thank you for your below e-mail rescoping your request to:

 

DFAT's SES Band 3 staff salaries for FY14/15, FY15/16 and FY16/17. 

 

We understand the specific documents to which you seek to access (noting
the FOI Act 1982 is premised on request for access to documents, and not
information or advice) are the group certificates for these staff for the
previous financial years.

 

As this is substantially different to the scope of your original request,
we consider the earlier request to have bene withdrawn and replaced by
this request, the reference number of which is 1803-F1911. 

 

The table below details the number of SES Band Three officers employed at
30 June 2015, 2016, and 2017 and the average for the SES Band three
cohort.

 

Number
of SES
Band
  Three Average
2016-17 18 $297,684
2015-16 16 $290,836
2014-15 15 $286,817

 

Eight SES Band three officers had uninterrupted employment with the
department across the period. The annual salary at 30 June in each year is
detailed below for these officers.

 

  14/15 15/16 16/17
1 $287,350 $293,097 $298,959
2 $287,350 $293,097 $298,959
3 $247,797 $293,097 $298,959
4 $287,350 $293,097 $298,959
5 $287,350 $293,097 $298,959
6 $287,350 $293,097 $298,959
7 $304,542 $310,632 $316,844
8 $287,350 $293,097 $298,959

 

Should you wish to continue with your FOI request for the relevant
individuals’ group certifications, please find attached the charges letter
for request 1803-F1911.

 

We note we had advised with respect to your earlier request that it would
be unreasonable for the Department to process a request for over 800
individual group certificates.  In contrast, we do not consider that this
is unreasonable for a request which captures approximately 54 group
certificates.  We note we would be required to conduct third party
consultations with all affected individuals.

 

Yours sincerely,

DFAT FOI Team.

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade only: