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Family day care educators and operators data matching program exemption

Our reference: DMA14/00007

[redacted]
National Manager
Serious Non-Compliance Branch
Business Integrity Division
Department Of Human Services

By email: [redacted]

Dear [redacted]

Data Matching Program Protocol — Department of Human Services New Compliance Data Sources Data Matching with the Department of Education

I refer to the correspondence received on 23 May 2014 from the Department of Human Services (DHS), which enclosed the data matching program protocol Department of Human Services New Compliance Data Sources Data Matching with the Department of Education (the protocol) for the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) consideration.

This program proposes to match data provided by the Department of Education (DOE) regarding Family Day Care educators and operators against DHS’s Centrelink records to identify individuals who are receiving unreported income while also receiving welfare payments.

DHS requested that it be exempted from the 14 day notification requirements in paragraph 63 of the Commissioner’s Guidelines for the Use of Data‑matching in Commonwealth Administration (the Voluntary Guidelines) in respect of this data matching program. The request is made in accordance with paragraph 26 of the Voluntary Guidelines.

Consideration of issues

Paragraph 28 of the Voluntary Guidelines outlines matters that an agency should address when seeking an exemption from Guidelines on public interest grounds. DHS has addressed the public interest grounds for this request in its letter dated 19 May 2014 and in the protocol.

DHS considers that notifying individuals of a match prior to investigation may undermine the investigation process as individuals may have the opportunity to destroy relevant evidence.

DHS states that the privacy impact of a deviation from the Voluntary Guidelines will be minimised as any person who is investigated will be provided with the opportunity to respond to information obtained through matching during the investigation process. Further, resulting adjustments or amendments to individuals’ personal information will be provided to them to comment on and/or dispute through established appeal and review processes.

DHS identifies a number of benefits that will arise from its data matching program including:

  • ensuring that only individuals entitled to receive payments from DHS receive them
  • reducing unnecessary outlays of DHS funds by strengthening the controls in DHS’s payment systems
  • having effective controls in existence will increase voluntary compliance in the community.

Decision

I have considered the information before me and agree that compliance with paragraphs 63 of the Voluntary Guidelines would significantly reduce the effectiveness of the data matching program.

Consequently, I consider it appropriate for DHS to be exempt from the provisions of paragraph 63 in relation to this particular data matching program.

The exemption will be for a total period of three years from June 2014.

Under paragraph 27 of the Voluntary Guidelines, it is my normal practice to make exemption requests publicly available. I note that DHS has not requested that this advice be kept confidential.

Thank you for the assistance you have provided the OAIC in relation to this matter.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter please contact [redacted], Adviser, on [redacted] email at [redacted].

Yours sincerely

[Signed]
Timothy Pilgrim
Australian Privacy Commissioner

17 June 2014