Preventative extension requests – managing potential office closures
Over the past week the Enquiries Service has received several queries about preventing applications from going deemed if an agency's offices shut down as part of COVID-19 prevention or containment. One way to prepare for any potential closure, particularly if RTI staff do not have the ability to work on applications from home, is to requests extensions of time now.
Correspondence that requires an action on the part of the applicant—for example, notices of intention to refuse to deal and charges estimate notices—can include a request for an extension of time. This way if your offices close and the applicant actions the correspondence during that time, the extension will kick in if the processing period expires, preventing a deemed decision.
You can do the same with other correspondence, such as acknowledgement letters or update emails, or you can send correspondence specifically to request an extension.
When asking for an extension, you can explain why it is being requested. Each agency will need to decide how best to phrase the request in their specific circumstances, but given the current events and the possibility of office closures, requesting extensions is a reasonable way for agencies to manage any potential disruption to application processing.
Timeframes and work from home and other arrangements has more information on managing timeframes in the current circumstances, including external review and privacy complaint timeframes, or you can contact the Enquiries Service on 07 3234 7373 (select option 1) or firstname.lastname@example.org.