This report reviews the activities the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security undertook during the past year to monitor Australia's six intelligence agencies.
This year the office experienced a heavy inquiry workload with five full inquiries commencing in the reporting period including one at the request of the Prime Minister.
In last year’s annual report I noted the need to review our activities to ensure we focussed on areas of priority and used our limited resources efficiently. In this reporting period we reviewed a number of our practices. For example:
- we revised our approach to ASIO inspections – partly as a response to ASIO systems changes – to focus on complete investigations rather than inspecting classes of activities
- for DSD and DIGO we recognised that there were advantages in using a concurrent inspection model to examine their activities
- we limited interstate inspection visits by inspecting files remotely
- we re-assessed training requirements, enrolling four staff members in Certificate IV courses and enhancing our internal training program
- we reviewed our outreach program to focus on key target groups.
Despite increases in average staffing costs and the efficiency dividend, our staffing complement remained constant. This was achieved by removing the international travel budget, limiting interstate travel, and reducing consultancy and legal costs to negligible amounts. Further savings in these areas will not be possible: domestic and international travel is essential to continue to provide appropriate oversight of AIC agencies.
At end-June 2013 the office is conducting three inquiries:
- an inquiry into use of weapons and self-defence techniques in ASIS initiated in April 2013
- an inquiry into the attendance of legal representatives at ASIO interviews initiated in May 2013 following a complaint
- an inquiry into the actions of Commonwealth agencies in respect of an Egyptian irregular maritime arrival initiated in June 2013 following a request by the Prime Minister.
All of these inquiries should be completed by the end of 2013 and will be reported in next year’s annual report.
A major project for 2013-14 will be the implementation of the Australian Government’s Public Interest Disclosure Scheme due to commence in January 2014. The IGIS has a significant role in respect of AIC agencies.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security tabled its Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation in May 2013. It is possible that there will be reforms of national security legislation that could lead to further responsibilities for this office. A continuing challenge will be to identify areas of risk in agencies and to focus our efforts accordingly as well as being alert and able to respond to emerging issues.