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Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Page: 3139

(Question No. 4800)


Mr Porter asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 17 October 1986:

(1) When did the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) commence applying the Public Service Board guidelines on official conduct of Commonwealth Public Servants relating to the acceptance of business appointments on retirement or resignation.

(2) When and in what circumstances have they been applied.

(3) Have the guidelines recently been applied to the Senior Executive Service (SES); if so, which positions in the HIC are the SES positions.

(4) Do the guidelines also apply to positions designated as sensitive; if so, which positions have been so designated and why.

(5) Has the HIC now designated senior computer operators, with detailed access to computer files and knowledge of the Commission's method of detecting overservicing by doctors, as sensitive; if so, who has now been designated as having a sensitive position.

(6) Has the HIC reported to him on the positions to be designated as sensitive; if so, what action has he taken on the report.

(7) Has the HIC a record of the number of staff who have left the Commission to work in the private sector.

(8) What action has been taken to change administrative procedures to overcome any misuse of information by former employees of the HIC.


Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Health Insurance Commission has applied guidelines consistent with the Australian Public Service Board guidelines on official conduct since 1980.

(2) Since 1980, all officers in positions designated sensitive have been required to notify the Commission when taking up employment in the private sector where that employment could give rise to a conflict of interest.

(3) The Commission does not have a Senior Executive Service (SES) classification. However, it employs staff at levels which correspond with some of the SES levels of the Australian Public Service and the guidelines apply to those positions. They are:

CENTRAL OFFICE

Assistant General Manager

Audit & Investigations

Claims & Membership

Finance & Planning

Marketing

Personnel

Secretariat & Property

Systems

Medical Director

Senior Medical Adviser

Manager

Health Insurance Applications Branch

Investigations

Software

Corporate Development

Systems Operations

Actuarial & Statistics

Budgets and Investments

STATE OFFICES

State Managers

Deputy State Managers

New South Wales

Victoria

(4) Yes. The guidelines do apply to positions designated as sensitive, and a list of those positions follows. All are at a classification level of Principal Executive Officer (equivalent to the Australian Public Service classification level for Class 9 clerical/administrative staff) and/or have duties or functions identified as sensitive. Positions designated sensitive are those where the occupants have access to confidential procedural or policy information, and/or they have an intimate knowledge of the Commission's computer and data storage systems.

CENTRAL OFFICE

Audit and Investigations

Manager

ADP Audit

Iternal Audit

Operations Support

Review

Senior Auditor

Investigations Co-ordinator

Claims and Membership

Manager

Operational Policy

Assessing

Production and Control

Development and Operations Support

Medicare Development

Medibank Private Development

Policy and Eligibility Officer

Legislation and Benefits Section Head

Medical Assessing Officer

Fault Investigator

Ministerial Liaison Officer

Freedom of Information Officer

Research Officer

Finance and Planning

Manager

Accounting

Scheduling and Development

Project Management

Corporate Development Officer

Marketing

Manager

Market Development

National Marketing

Medical Division

Manager

Analysis and Co-ordination

Personnel Management

Manager

Personnel Development

Staff Development and Training

Organisational Development

Industrial Relations Officer

Project Officer

Secretariat and Property

Manager

Property and Security

Administrative Services

Assistant Manager Administrative Services

Systems

Manager

Network Control

Computer Processing

Data Administration Branch

Change

ADP Training

Technical Services

Change Co-ordinator

STATE OFFICES

New South Wales

Manager

Branch Operations

Claims

Property and Administration

Marketing

Finance

Personnel and Training

Investigations

Customer Services

Internal Audit

Medical

Processing Centre-Orange

Processing Centre-Strathfield

Procurement Officer

Medical Adviser

Victoria

Manager

Marketing

Branch Operations

Personnel

Finance

Claims

Property and Administration

Investigations

Internal Audit

Customer Services

Medical Branch

Medical Adviser

Procurement Officer

Queensland

Deputy State Manager

Manager

Marketing

Branch Operations

Personnel

Claims and Membership

Finance

Property and Administration

Investigations

Medical

Internal Audit

Medical Adviser

Procurement Officer

Centre Manager Ipswich

South Australia

Deputy State Manager

Manager

Administration and Finance

Claims and Membership

Finance

Marketing

Services

Investigations

Internal Audit

Analysis and Co-ordination

Personnel

Branch Operations

Medical Adviser

Procurement Officer

Western Australia

Deputy State Manager

Manager

Investigations

Internal Audit

Finance and Administration

Marketing and Information

Branch Operations

Claims and Membership

Analysis and Co-ordination

Procurement Officer

Medical Adviser

Tasmania

Deputy State Manager

Manager

Administration and Finance

Marketing

Personnel and Training

Investigations

Analysis and Co-ordination

Branch Operations

Claims and Membership

Services and Property

Procurement Officer

Medical Adviser

(5) The Commission has not designated `computer operator' positions sensitive as these staff do not have access to Medicare files and are already subject to the provisions of section 130 of the Health Insurance Act 1973. Knowledge of the Commission's methods of detecting fraud or excessive servicing is not available to computer operators.

(6) Yes. I have accepted the Commission's report and am confident that the current procedures are adequate.

(7) The Commission does not have a comprehensive record of the number of staff who have left to work in the private sector as only people in those positions classified sensitive are required to notify the Commission of their post-separation employment intentions and then only where that employment could give rise to a conflict of interests. The Commission holds records in relation to these employees.

(8) No action has been taken to change administrative procedures as I believe those currently in place are adequate. On commencement of duty with the Commission, all staff are required to formally acknowledge the following:

``Terms and Conditions of employment''

Condition 14: Officers not to Mis-use Official Information:

Except with the express permission of the Commission recorded in writing, an officer shall not use, otherwise than in the discharge of his official duties as an officer of the Commission, any information which comes to his knowledge, or which is communicated or conveyed to him, by virtue of his office with the Commission.

Condition 15: Information to be Secret:

An officer shall not, except in the course of his official duty or with the written approval of the Commission, give information, directly or indirectly concerning the business of the Commission or any other matter of which he has knowledge officially.

Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914 Section 70:

(1) Any person who, being a Commonwealth Officer, publishes or communicates, except to some person to whom he is authorised to publish or communicate it, any fact or document which comes to his knowledge, or into his possession, by virtue of his office, and which it is his duty not to disclose, shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) A person who, having been a Commonwealth Officer, publishes or communicates, without lawful authority or excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him), any fact or document which came to his knowledge, or into his possession, by virtue of his office, and which, at the time he ceased to be a Commonwealth Officer, it was his duty not to disclose, shall be guilty of an offence. Penalty: Imprisonment for two years.

Note: The term ``officer'' used in Conditions 14 and 15 and ``Commonwealth Officer'' used in the Crimes Act includes a temporary employee.

and sign the following ``Undertaking and Acknowledgment'' before a witness.

I, ...

of ...

an officer of the Health Insurance Commission who will exercise powers or perform duties or functions under the Health Insurance Act 1973 or whose duties will or may be connected with the operation of that Act, hereby-

(a) undertake that I will at all times well and faithfully perform such duties and functions and exercise such powers under the said Act as are from time to time to be performed or exercised by me to the best of my ability and in accordance with direction and instructions from time to time given to me in that behalf.

(b) acknowledge that-

(i) I am aware that Sub-section (1) of Section 130 of the Health Insurance Act provides that a person shall not directly or indirectly, except in the performance of his duties, or in the exercise of his powers or functions, under the Act, and while he is, or after he ceases to be, an officer, make a record of, or divulge or communicate to any person, any information with respect to the affairs of another person acquired by him in the performance of his duties, or in the exercise of his powers or functions, under the Act.

(ii) I have read a copy of the circular relating to the unauthorised disclosure of information and the performance of work outside the Commission.

(iii) I understand that all facts and documents under or in connection with the said Act which come to my knowledge, or into my possession, by virtue of my office as aforesaid are fact and documents which it is my duty not to disclose at any time while I am or after I have ceased to be an officer of the Health Insurance Commission, except to a person to whom I an authorised by lawful authority to publish or communicate them.''

The provisions of section 130 of the Health Insurance Act 1973 are circularised to Commission staff annually.

All staff are given a copy of the Code of Conduct on commencement of employment with the Commission. Staff in positions identified as sensitive are reminded annually that they are required to declare the existence of an actual or potential conflicting interest to the appropriate State Manager, as the case may be.

In addition, any knowledge a former employee may have of procedures for the detection of fraud or overservicing would only be relevant for a short period of time after ceasing employment with the Commission as the parameters of the systems used to monitor claims and detect abuses are subject to regular review and modification at random intervals.