Inspection of AGO activities
Inspection and review activities
During 2014–15 we conducted three inspection visits to AGO headquarters, as well as reviewing records of some of its intelligence collection activities on-line and discussing relevant matters with the Director of AGO and relevant officers. In the course of these activities, this office paid particular attention to AGO's compliance with the terms of each ministerial authorisation which was issued to the agency by the Minister for Defence, noted the time taken to cancel collection activities when the grounds on which a ministerial authorisation had materially changed, and reviewed the accuracy of reports provided to the Minister for Defence following the expiry or cancellation of a ministerial authorisation.
The Director of AGO is required to personally authorise any intelligence collection activity undertaken by AGO in relation to Australian territory. These approvals are reported to the minister on a quarterly basis. OIGIS staff reviewed approximately 70% of the approvals given by the Director of AGO and subsequent post activity reports in 2014–2015, no issues of concern were identified.
OIGIS staff also examined the adequacy of checks undertaken by AGO to determine the nationality of individuals or entities before targeted collection activities took place (to establish whether or not a ministerial authorisation needed to be obtained), and the extent of cooperation between AGO and other intelligence collection agencies when seeking to obtain intelligence information about the same target, or lodge a submission to obtain a joint ministerial authorisation. The only significant issue was that on a number of occasions joint ASD-AGO submissions to the minister to renew authorisations do not appear to have been processed in time; as discussed above ASD is the lead agency for administration of these arrangements.
AGO advised this office of one occasion where the information provided to their Minister about activities conducted in reliance on a ministerial authorisation was incomplete. We are satisfied with the steps that AGO subsequently took to correct the information provided and to inform this office of the issue. We have reviewed the remedial actions taken by AGO and consider them to be satisfactory.
Based on these inspection and review activities, the IGIS was satisfied that AGO takes its statutory obligations under the ISA seriously and has put in place robust systems to encourage compliance with its obligations. AGO has effective mechanisms for identifying legal issues and ensuring that legal advice is appropriately recorded and potential issues brought to the attention of the Director of AGO.