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Program protocol for data matching with the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre exemption

Our reference: DMA15/00008

[redacted]
Business Integrity Division
Department of Human Services

By email: [redacted]

Dear [redacted]

Request for exemption from Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration

I refer to your correspondence of 23 July 2015 regarding the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Program protocol for data matching with the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre (the data matching program).

The purpose of the data matching program is to assist DHS in reducing inappropriate access to welfare payments by identifying welfare customers who may have undeclared wealth. The data matching program will use data provided by the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre (the source entity).

I note that DHS is seeking an exemption to the notification requirements under Guideline 6 of the Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration 2014 (the Guidelines). Specifically, DHS is seeking exemption from the requirement to notify an individual of a match and proposed administrative action before proceeding with the proposed administrative action.

Consideration of issues

Under Guideline 10, an agency seeking an exemption must explain the public interest grounds that justify any inconsistency with the requirements of the Guidelines. I note that DHS has addressed the matters outlined in Guideline 10 in its exemption request, attached to the protocol. In particular:

DHS has identified the negative impact that notification may have on DHS’ investigation, detection and enforcement activities.

Notifying individuals before taking administrative action may jeopardise the efficient protection of public revenue, identification of welfare abuse, and the efficient collection of debts owed to the Commonwealth.

Exemption approval

I have considered the information before me and agree that compliance with the notification requirements contained in Guideline 6 would reduce the effectiveness of this data matching program.

I approve DHS’s request for an exemption from the requirement to provide reasonable notice to an individual before taking administrative action.

This exemption is only applicable to the Program protocol for data matching with the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre.

Publication on the OAIC website

Under Guideline 10.6, it is my normal practice to make exemption requests publicly available. DHS has not requested that this advice be kept confidential and, as such, it will be published on the OAIC website.

Should you have any questions, please contact [redacted].

Yours sincerely

Timothy Pilgrim
Acting Australian Information Commissioner
13 August 2015