In 2018–19, we fully met seven of our nine performance criteria and partially met the remaining two. Our results show that our intelligence informed and influenced activities across a wide range of crime themes to harden the environment against serious and organised criminal activities.
Our stakeholder survey asked our stakeholders to rate our general performance on a scale from one to 10. We achieved an overall rating of 6.9, an improvement on the 6.6 achieved in 2017–18.
We have received pleasing feedback indicating that development of quality intelligence products is something that the ACIC did particularly well over the past year. Our intelligence informed and influenced activities across a wide range of crime themes to close off opportunities for criminal exploitation that may exist.
Due to the complexity of the criminal environment in which we operate, we have focused our efforts on disrupting high-priority serious organised crime threats. This has resulted in some decreases to quantitative results as we have focused on a smaller number of higher priority threats. As a consequence, declines in overall numbers of products and use of coercive powers are not unexpected.
An example of the focus on high priority threats is the APOT strategy. This strategy is an ACIC-led initiative focused on identifying, assessing, designating and coordinating operational responses to the transnational serious and organised crime targets that pose the greatest threat to Australia’s interests. The intent of the strategy is to improve understanding and facilitate disruption, in collaboration with our domestic and international law enforcement and intelligence partners within local, regional and global contexts, to enhance community safety in Australia.
We assessed approximately 200 potential Australian Priority Organisation Targets (APOTs), and the number of APOTs discovered during the financial year rose by half, from eight in 2017–18 to 12 in 2018–19.
We continued to develop products aligned with ACIC Board-agreed priority crime themes. The number of products finalised on each theme each year fluctuates in response to changing organisational priorities. On the whole, the numbers of products produced in 2018–19 were in line with historical averages.
We continued to collaborate with partners at the state, federal and international levels. Pleasingly, negative sentiment around the idea that the ACIC works on investigations in parallel to partners and encroaches on their turf has almost wholly disappeared.
Our stakeholder results in relation to the value to stakeholders of our information and intelligence services remained high overall and rose in some cases. This is a key measure for us as it relates to our role in supporting our partners, particularly police, in the wide range of roles they undertake to protect the community from crime.
ACIC systems met all board agreed benchmarks for availability. By providing our systems and services reliably, and ensuring that they are accessible and used by the appropriate police, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, we contribute to the effectiveness of our collective efforts to keep Australia safer from crime.
Stakeholder feedback indicates that our information and technology projects are of great value to their role (with 94% agreeing or strongly agreeing with this statement). In order to maintain this high result we will ensure that we continue to focus on improving our stakeholder engagement as well as our delivery of systems and support. The establishment of business hubs is intended to address gaps in how the agency engages with and delivers services to internal and external stakeholders, clients and partners.
The number of police checks conducted by the National Police Checking Service (NPCS) continues to grow steadily each year. The timeliness results for urgent police checks improved but still did not meet the board-agreed target. The timeframe for completion of police history checks is not only an ACIC performance measure, but also a measure shared by our police partners in providing this service to the wider community and other agencies. We continue to work with partners to improve the timeliness results.
Overall, we assess that we met our purpose with demonstrated achievement of the majority of our performance measures. There are some areas for improvement with regard to stakeholder consultation and partner collaboration on the development of products, systems and services. Future work in this area will ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our stakeholders going forward.