A report detailing findings and recommendations from a review of the performance of Australia’s intelligence agencies has been released.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has published reviews No. 18 and No. 19 of the administration and expenditure of Australian intelligence agencies for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years.
The committee has found that the Office of National Intelligence, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Australian Signals Directorate, the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation and the Defence Intelligence Organisation are meeting administration and expenditure expectations.
“Australia’s intelligence agencies are operating in a rapidly deteriorating security environment,” committee chair Senator James Paterson commented.
“With foreign interference, cyber intrusion and espionage at levels not seen even throughout the Cold War.
“Australians can be encouraged to know that our intelligence agencies have risen to the challenge and are operating at their best.”
Senator Paterson particularly lauded the agencies’ ability to manage disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the committee has handed four recommendations, including recommendations aimed at investigating options for shared services to support staff complaints and resolution mechanisms, as well as psychological support.
Other recommendations include:
- consider the potential scope of a shared psychological support service for all national intelligence community agencies to access for mental health support of staff;
- consider the establishment of a staff support advice ombudsman service for access by employees of all national intelligence community agencies;
- the establishment of a mechanism to enable national intelligence community agencies to apply to have an individual who lodges persistent and repeated applications and appeals for access to historical “open access” material under the Archives Act 1983 to be declared vexatious; and
- the amendment of the Archives Act 1983 to incorporate lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The committee has also launched the next Administration and Expenditure Review (No. 20) and looks forward to receiving information from the agencies regarding their ongoing operational priorities and safeguards to ensure that their critical functions are being delivered in the most effective and efficient way,” Senator Paterson added.
Subscribe to the Defence Connect daily newsletter.
Be the first to hear the latest developments in the defence industry.