Private use of social media advice provided to employees

James Smith made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Communications and the Arts

The request was refused by Department of Communications and the Arts.

From: James Smith

Delivered

Dear Department of Communications and the Arts,

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

I request documents related to the ten most recent instances where an employee has sought information, advice, guidance, or opinion on their social media use in a private capacity.

I limit the scope of documents to:
- the original request from the employee
- the agency/department's response
- any follow-up questions and response
- only those sent to a relevant HR / conduct / social media (or similar) team (rather than managers across all areas of the organisation)
- where the original request was created in the last 2 years

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully,

James Smith

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From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Smith,

 

I refer to your email dated 8 August 2017 seeking access under the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to:

 

“…documents related to the ten most recent instances where an employee has
sought information, advice, guidance, or opinion on their social media use
in a private capacity.

 

I limit the scope of documents to:

- the original request from the employee

- the agency/department's response

- any follow-up questions and response

- only those sent to a relevant HR / conduct / social media (or similar)
team (rather than managers across all areas of the organisation)

- where the original request was created in the last 2 years...”    

 

You have not provided such information as is reasonably necessary to
enable a responsible officer to identify the documents within the scope of
your request and accordingly, your request does not satisfy the
requirements of section 15(2)(b) of the FOI Act. For a request to be valid
under section 15(2) of the FOI Act, it must:

 

(a)    be in writing, and state it is an application for the purposes of
the FOI Act;

(b)   provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably
necessary to enable the agency to identify it; and

(c)    give details of how notices and documents may be sent to the
applicant.

To process an FOI request, a responsible officer should be able to look at
the wording of your request, and then look at a document, and be able to
readily determine whether that document falls within the scope (and is
therefore subject to your request).

Your request describes the documents you are seeking access to as those
“related to the ten most recent instances” where an employee has sought
“information, advice or opinion” and “only those sent to a relevant
HR/conduct/social media (or similar) team” – this presents a number of
processing difficulties.

Processing this request in its current form would require the responsible
officer to:

·         identify all documents where an employee has sought “advice,
information or opinion” from either the HR, conduct or social media teams
during the past 2 years and then review those documents to identify those
“related to” all instances where an employee has requested information,
advice or opinion about “social media use in a private capacity”; and

·         having identified those documents that “relate to” requests for
advice about social media use, review those documents in order to identify
which of the requests “are the ten most recent instances”; and

·         then having identified which requests are “the ten most recent”,
identify the documents that “relate to” those ten requests; and

·         then having identified the documents which “relate to the ten
most recent instances” review each document to identify documents which
are the “original request, the Department’s response and any follow up
questions and responses”.

The request is therefore not possible to process merely by application of
the terms of the request to identity documents within scope; searches for
relevant documents would require overarching analysis and potentially, the
creation of new documents. For these reasons, the request does not meet
the FOI Act requirement that it provide sufficient information to allow
identification of documents that are within scope, and therefore it does
not meet the criteria under section 15(2)(b) of the Act.

Should you wish to proceed with a request for the documents, you will need
to ensure that it satisfies the requirements of section 15(2).  If you
require assistance to make the request in a manner that complies with
these requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

[1]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

P +61 2 6271 1277

E [Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[2]communications.gov.au

[3]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [4]@CommsAu

 

[5]arts.gov.au

[6]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [7]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

 

show quoted sections

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

The agency says that the following request: "I request documents related to the ten most recent instances where an employee has sought information, advice, guidance, or opinion on their social media use in a private capacity. I limit the scope of documents to:- the original request from the employee; the agency/department's response; any follow-up questions and response; only those sent to a relevant HR / conduct / social media (or similar) team (rather than managers across all areas of the organisation); where the original request was created in the last 2 years" does not explain what the applicant is asking for!

Maybe the agency officer needs some basic training in processing FOI requests and interpreting plain English. I say this because it is the only agency (from many many agencies) that has responded in this way. Apparently other FOI officers in other agencies can understand what the applicant wants. Even I can understand.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Communications and the Arts only: