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Overview of inspection activities

The office regularly examines selected agency records to ensure that the activities of the intelligence agencies comply with the relevant legislative and policy frameworks and to identify issues before there is a need for major remedial action.

These inspections largely focus on the activities of ASIO, ASIS, AGO and ASD. This is because each of these agencies has access to intrusive powers and investigative techniques. In the second half of the reporting period we have focused on activities affected by the implementation and use of new legislative powers.

Inspection activities relating to DIO and ONA are generally limited to ensuring that their assessments comply with administrative privacy guidelines (which have a similar effect to the privacy rules which apply to ASIS, ASD and AGO).

Inspection activities consider whether or not each agency is acting in accordance with its statutory functions, any guidance provided by the responsible minister and its own internal policies and procedures. Inspection activity is a combination of routine inspections (for example ASIO investigative cases and warrants) and inspection projects that target specific areas.

In the reporting period the relatively high inquiry workload together with amendments to the intelligence agencies' enabling legislation resulted in prioritisation of inspections work based on a risk management approach.

Implementation of recommendations – 2013 and 2014 Weapons Inquiries

During 2014-15 ASIS finalised the implementation of IGIS recommendations arising from the 2013 Weapons Inquiry. This included:

  • Updated weapons related standard operating procedures for all stations where ASIS staff are or may be issued with weapons.
  • Revised ASIS Guidelines for the use of weapons and self defence techniques. This was preceded by an extensive briefing process for all staff with weapons qualifications.
  • A review of operational environments to identify stations that require weapons and self-defence training.
  • New safeguards and controls implemented in all stations where ASIS staff are or may be issued with weapons.

As noted in our previous annual report, in June 2014 the IGIS initiated a further inquiry into the management of weapons by ASIS in a particular location. This followed a serious incident in that location in December 2013.

This inquiry was completed in December 2014. The report of the findings is not able to be made public due to national security and foreign relations considerations.

ASIS accepted all the recommendations from the inquiry and at the end of the reporting period the IGIS was satisfied these recommendations have either already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented.

The IGIS inquiry findings have been communicated widely throughout ASIS. At the invitation of the Director-General of ASIS the IGIS presented her findings to the ASIS senior leadership group and also to all ASIS staff in December 2014.

ASIS is in the process of undertaking change to address areas of concern. This includes:

  • the introduction of a compliance branch
  • an extensive compliance outreach training program
  • widespread consultation with staff
  • a review of all ASIS policy and procedures, to be made centrally available on a new platform.

The IGIS reported to the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the status of the implementation of recommendations in June 2015.