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Activity 7 Engagement with the intelligence agencies and the public

About engagement with the intelligence agencies and the public

Each year, the office engages with new and current members of intelligence agencies with the aim of increasing their awareness of their compliance responsibilities as well as increasing their understanding of the role of this office. In addition to discussions with agency heads and senior staff we have given presentations to new and current staff explaining the approach of this office to compliance issues illustrating this with reference to some of the more common problems we encounter. Our office also has a regular program of presentations to the broader intelligence community, and public groups with an interest in national security matters. This program is designed to create greater public awareness of the role and activities of this office and "to assist the Government in assuring the Parliament and the public that intelligence and security matters relating to Commonwealth agencies are open to scrutiny, in particular the activities and procedures of intelligence agencies"; section 4(d), Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986.

Performance Summary

Undertaking presentations to new and existing employees of intelligence agencies to ensure awareness and understanding of their responsibilities and accountability

Raising awareness of the role and functions of the office outside the Australian intelligence agencies in order to increase public awareness of the scrutiny applied to the agencies.

Performance criteria: completion of at least nine outreach activities per year

Target: frequency of presentations and outreach. Meet all feasible requests.

Source: Portfolio Budget Statements, p.235; Corporate Plan 2016-20

Figure 2.10: Number of presentations by year and audience

Figure 2.10: Number of presentations by year and audience

Presentations and agency engagement

In the reporting period, the office delivered 30 presentations, of which 15 were to members of the intelligence agencies, including in regional offices and other sites outside of Canberra; and 15 were to external groups. Over the last two reporting periods the office has increased the number of presentations as part of a deliberate strategy to extend our outreach.

Presentations delivered to staff in the intelligence agencies, and other related bodies, provide an opportunity to explain the role and functions of the office and to discuss matters relating to compliance, professionalism, accountability and ethical conduct.

The Inspector-General meets regularly with intelligence agency heads and their senior staff to discuss current issues or concerns, and to highlight issues arising from inspection and inquiry activities. Typically agencies use these discussions to brief the office on emerging risks or potential concerns and how they plan to respond to these challenges. The Inspector-General continued the practice of meeting with ASIS heads of station and other officers from intelligence agencies to remind them of the functions of the office and explore any particular challenges they encounter. These may vary depending on the particular locations and operations at their post. These discussions enhance our understanding of each intelligence agency's operational environment and also provide a forum to resolve issues informally without the need for extended or time consuming correspondence.

Each agency has also established regular points of contact to facilitate our visits and to coordinate our various requirements, while within our office, designated officers lead interactions with each intelligence agency. We would like to express appreciation to our regular points of contact within each agency for assisting our work during the 2016-17 reporting period.

Engagement with the public

In the reporting period, there were 15 presentations to groups external to the intelligence agencies. Presentations by the Inspector-General included a public lecture at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and presentations to the Australian National Security College, law firms and government departments. The Inspector-General and Deputy Inspector-General also provided guest lectures at the Australian National University.

It is intended to continue this program of presentations in the coming year.

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