Our Approach

INDEPENDENT AND IMPARTIAL – We select what to look at and how to look at it

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

ASTUTE AND INFORMED – We know what agencies are doing and why

Each of the intelligence agencies we oversee has its individual mandate; its procedures and operations are directed to that mandate. To target our inspections and inquiries effectively and efficiently we need to understand the environment in which the intelligence agencies operate as well as each agency’s 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 efficiently and with flexibility.

MEASURED – We focus on systemic issues

We accept that in the complex environment in which intelligence agencies operate there will inevitably be errors. We encourage agencies to identify and self-report breaches and potential breaches of legislation and issues of propriety and we assist agencies to identify gaps and errors and address the problem. Our focus is on identifying systemic or cultural problems in the activities of the agencies we oversee and ensuring that non-compliance with requirements of legality or propriety is as infrequent as is possible in the circumstances.

OPEN – We make our information public as much as possible

Much of the information that IGIS deals with is classified and cannot be released publicly. That said, we seek to include as much information as possible about our activities and our findings about intelligence agency activities in our annual report, unclassified inquiry reports and responses to complaints. We are also open about the way we approach oversight. We seek to ensure that intelligence agencies provide Ministers with accurate reports of their intelligence activities. This includes reporting about the use of special powers such as warrants as well as non- compliance with legislative requirements.

INFLUENTIAL – We help agencies improve their compliance

Our inspections and inquiries lead to positive changes in agency processes and foster a culture of compliance. IGIS oversight is seen as a positive contribution to agency functions and a key part of the framework within which intelligence agencies operate. We work cooperatively with other oversight bodies to avoid any duplication of effort. Our program of public presentations and our submissions to Parliamentary Committees encourage informed debate about the activities of the agencies we oversee as well as about the policies reflected in those activities.