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Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) gives a general right to the public and to staff to seek access to documents held by CSIRO.

CSIRO's FOI Unit handles freedom of information requests received by the Organisation or referred by other Federal Government Departments and Agencies.

  • 23 February 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011

Your rights

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives any person the right to:
  • access copies of documents (except exempt documents) we hold
  • ask for information we hold about you to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading
  • seek a review of our decision not to allow you access to a document or not to amend your personal record.

You can ask to see any document that CSIRO holds. CSIRO can refuse access to some documents, or parts of documents that are exempt. Exempt documents may include those:

  • containing material obtained in confidence
  • disclosing trade secrets or commercially sensitive or valuable information
  • containing information relating to research that is being undertaken by CSIRO
  • containing personal information
  • relating to deliberative processes of CSIRO.

Documents available outside the FOI Act

We have some internal procedures by which you can get some information, including certain of your personnel records (as an employee or former employee), without following a formal process under the FOI Act.

You should use these procedures before making a request under the FOI Act.  For more information on these procedures, you can contact our Freedom of Information Officer on 02 6276 6123.


You should also check the information CSIRO has published under the Information Publication Scheme and FOI disclosure log to see if what you are seeking is already available.

How to make a request for access to a document under the FOI Act

Your request must:

  • be in writing
  • state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
  • describe the document as clearly as possible to assist us to process your request
  • provide an address for reply.

You can send your request via post to:

Freedom of Information Officer
CSIRO
PO Box 225
Dickson ACT 2602
Australia

Or by email to: FOI@csiro.au
Or by facsimile to: (02) 6276 6437

If you ask a third party to make an FOI request on your behalf, you need to provide a specific, written and signed authority to send copies of documents to you, care of that person, or to allow that person to inspect copies of documents containing information about you.

If you require assistance with your request, please contact the FOI Co-ordinator on 61 2 6276 6123 or by email at FOI@csiro.au.

Fees and charges

There is no application fee for an FOI request.

There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing only personal information about you. However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:

 Activity item  Charge
Search and retrieval: time we spend searching for or retrieving a document $15.00 per hour
Decision making: time we spend in deciding to grant or refuse a request, including examining documents, consulting with other parties, and making deletions First five hours: Nil

Subsequent hours: $20 per hour
Transcript: preparing a transcript from a sound recording, shorthand or similar medium $4.40 per page of transcript
Photocopy $0.10 per page
Inspection: supervision by an agency officer of your inspection of documents or hearing or viewing an audio or visual recording at our premises $6.25 per half hour (or part thereof)
Delivery: posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request Cost of postage or delivery
If CSIRO decides to impose a charge, CSIRO will give you a written estimate and the basis of our calculation. Where the estimated charge is between $20 and $100, we may ask you to pay a deposit of $20, or where the estimated charge exceeds $100, we may ask you to pay a 25% deposit before we process your request.

You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. If you do so, you should explain your reasons and you may need to provide supporting evidence.

What you can expect from us

CSIRO will tell you within 14 days that we have received your request. CSIRO will also give you an estimate of the charges that apply to your request. We will give you our decision concerning your request within 30 days unless that time has been extended. If a document contains information about a third party, we will need to consult the third party and may need to extend the time to give you our decision by another 30 days. We may also seek your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex.

If you disagree with our decision

When CSIRO has made a decision about your FOI request, we will send you a letter explaining our decision and your review and appeal rights.

You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:

  • if we refuse to give you access to all or part of a document or if we defer giving you access
  • if we impose a charge
  • if we refuse to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading.
  • if there is a deemed decision (where a decision has not been made within the allowed time)
  • if we refuse further time for making an internal review request

A third party who disagrees with CSIRO’s decision to give you documents that contain information about them can also ask for our decision to be reviewed.

Internal review

You can request in writing that we reconsider our decision through an internal review. An internal review will be conducted by another officer in CSIRO. We will advise you of our new decision within 30 days of receiving your request to review.

Information Commissioner review

You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review our original decision or our internal review decision within 60 days of the date of decision (or 30 days after you are notified if you are an affected third party). The Information Commissioner can affirm or vary the decision or substitute a new decision. The Information Commissioner may decide not to conduct a review in certain circumstances. More information is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.

Complaints

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request, you can complain to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate our actions. More information is available on the OAIC’s website. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about our actions. However, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner will consult with each other to avoid the same matter being investigated twice.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

Decisions made by the Australian Information Commissioner may be appealed to the AAT.  More information is available at the AAT website.  

More information

If you require more information, please contact CSIRO’s FOI Co-ordinator on 61 2 6276 6123  or by email at FOI@csiro.au

Certain documents that we have released under the FOI Act can be obtained at our FOI disclosure log page. Information about our Information Publication Scheme can be obtained on CSIRO.au.