During 2019–20, Defence finalised 1,054 requests for information. These requests were a combination of freedom of information requests, enquiries that were handled administratively by agreement with the applicant, and courtesy consultations with other government agencies.
Defence received 619 requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and finalised 611, including requests carried over from 2018–19. Of these, 256 were for personal information and 28 were for amendment or annotation of records of personal information, managed under section 48 of the Freedom of Information Act.
Defence managed 443 requests for information which did not proceed to a formal freedom of information decision. Of these requests, 235 were for access to personnel records processed in accordance with section 15A of the Freedom of Information Act, which provides for access to be given in such cases through established administrative channels. Defence also received 63 courtesy consultations from other government agencies in 2019–20.
Defence managed 143 review requests on finalised freedom of information decisions. These reviews were managed internally or by providing detailed submissions to the Office of the Information Commissioner. Of these review requests, 61 were internal reviews of freedom of information decisions. Defence finalised 63 reviews, including cases carried over from the previous financial year.
Defence also managed 82 external review cases submitted to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner; 25 of these reviews were completed and 57 are awaiting a decision from the Information Commissioner. Defence also managed three cases before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, of which one was completed.
One external complaint relating to a Defence freedom of information case was received by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner during 2019–20.
Contracts exempt from publication on AusTender
In 2019–20, Defence reported a total of 148 contracts, standing offers or variations, with a total value of $470,585,459 (GST inclusive), subject to an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. These exemptions were generally applied under the national security provisions of the Act.
Information Publication Scheme
Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act are required to publish information as part of the Information Publication Scheme. Each agency must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the scheme’s requirements.
The Defence Public Interest Disclosure Scheme is underpinned by a strong reporting culture in Defence. The scheme facilitates and encourages reports of suspected wrongdoing, provides support and protection to disclosers, and ensures that suspected wrongdoing is investigated, where appropriate, consistent with the requirements of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.
During 2019–20, Defence received a total of 194 matters reported under the Defence Public Interest Disclosure Scheme. Of these, Defence accepted 118 matters as public interest disclosures and allocated them for investigation.