The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is an independent statutory office holder who reviews the activities of the six Commonwealth intelligence agencies referred to as the "Australian Intelligence Community", namely:
- Australian Security Intelligence Organisation - ASIO
- Australian Secret Intelligence Service - ASIS
- Australian Signals Directorate - ASD
- Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation – AGO
- Defence Intelligence organisation - DIO
- Office of National Intelligence - ONI
The purpose of this review is to ensure that the agencies act legally and with propriety, comply with ministerial guidelines and directives and respect human rights.
The functions of the Inspector-General are prescribed under sections 8, 9 and 9A of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986 (Comlaw).
The Inspector-General can undertake a formal inquiry into the activities of an Australian intelligence agency in response to a complaint or a reference from a minister. The Inspector-General can also act independently to initiate inquiries and conducts regular inspections and monitoring of agency activities.
In conducting an inquiry, the Inspector-General has significant powers which include requiring the attendance of witnesses, taking sworn evidence, copying and retention of documents and entry into an Australian intelligence agency's premises.
The Inspector-General can also conduct preliminary inquiries into matters in order to decide whether to initiate a full inquiry.