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Our Approach

Independent and impartial

Independence is fundamental to the Inspector-General’s role and the role of the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. This includes independence in selecting matters for inspection or inquiry as well as in undertaking and reporting on those activities. We have direct access to intelligence agency systems and are able to retrieve and check information independently. Our approach is impartial and our assessments are unbiased.

Astute and informed

Each of the intelligence agencies we oversee has its individual mandate. To target our inspections and inquiries effectively and efficiently, we need to understand the purpose and functions of each of the intelligence agencies as well as their operational planning, risk management and approach to compliance. We also need to have a sound understanding of the techniques and technologies used by the agencies to obtain, analyse and disseminate intelligence. Being well-informed allows us to target our oversight resources to the areas of greatest risk.


We appreciate the complex environment in which intelligence agencies operate and we accept that at times errors may occur. We identify errors and possible problems, and encourage agencies to self-report breaches and potential breaches of legislation and propriety. Our risk-based approach targets activities of high risk and activities with the potential to adversely affect the lives or rights of Australians. We consider an agency’s internal control mechanisms as well as its history of compliance and reporting. The focus is on identifying serious, systemic, or cultural problems in the activities of agencies within our jurisdiction.


We make as much information public as possible; however, a large part of the information that IGIS deals with is classified and cannot be released publicly. Nevertheless, we include as much information as we can about our activities, including oversight of intelligence agency activities, in our annual report and in response to complaints.


IGIS oversight is a key part of the oversight framework within which intelligence agencies operate. Inspections and inquiries make a positive contribution to compliance; they lead to effective changes in agency processes and assist in fostering a culture of compliance. Important to these outcomes is that we work cooperatively with other oversight bodies to effectively address areas of overlap. Our submissions to parliamentary committees contribute to informed debate about the activities of the agencies as well as the policies reflected in those activities.