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Reviews and inquiries

 

​Review into the processing of freedom of information requests

Information Commissioner own motion investigation

Our Information Commissioner undertook an Own Motion Investigation (OM12/00001) in 2012.

The Information Commissioner has not identified concerns with our processing of routine freedom of information (FOI) requests, noting that we complied with the time limits specified in the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) in processing 88 per cent of personal information requests in 2010-11.

A copy of the Information Commissioner’s Own Motion Investigation and our response is available online at the Information Commissioner's website.

Independent comparative review

In 2012 we requested that Mr Robert Cornall AO undertake an Independent Comparative Review of our FOI procedures

The Review was commissioned to:

  • consider existing processes and procedures which our FOI team in the National Office, Canberra, has in place to process complex, high-profile and sensitive FOI cases
  • identify the processes and procedures which other APS agencies in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney have in place to ensure complex, high-profile and sensitive FOI cases are processed in a timely manner
  • identify comparative best FOI practices which could be adopted by the FOI team in the National Office, Canberra
  • consider the appropriate levels of officers who are allocated and are the decision makers for complex, high-profile and sensitive cases.

The report concluded that the FOI team’s established processes and procedures are not the principal, or even the significant, cause of our poor FOI performance. It concluded that a major contributing factor is the lack of a whole of department approach to effective FOI management.

The review made a number of recommendations. These were endorsed by the department's Executive Committee on 17 September 2012. Attached is a copy of the report with individual case details removed.

Management initiated review

In 2011 we requested Ernst & Young to undertake a Management Initiated Review of Freedom of Information in the department. The objective of this review was to determine ways to improve the efficiency of processing requests for access to documents and amendments to personal information and to ultimately reduce the number of FOI requests that we receive.

The review made a number of recommendations that we are currently working through in conjuncture with the recommendations from the Own Motion Investigation and the Independent Comparative Review.

Disclaimer from Ernst & Young: Ernst & Young is a registered trademark. Our report more be relied upon by Department of Immigration and Citizenship for the purpose of only pursuant to the terms of our engagement letter dated 10 June 2011. We disclaim all responsibility to any other party for any loss or liability that the other party may suffer or incur arising from or relating to or in any way connected with the contents of our report, the provision of our report to the other party or the reliance upon our report by the other party. These services are advisory in nature and thus do not constitute an audit, a review or an engagement to perform agreed-upon procedures in accordance with the Australian Auditing Standards. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Note: This report purports to describe the practices of Centrelink and the Child Support Agency in processing requests under the Freedom of Information Act. However some of this material is inaccurate, incomplete or out of date. Centrelink and the Child Support Agency are part of Services Australia. Up to date information on making a FOI request to the Services Australi​a​ is available on their website.