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External scrutiny

Auditor-General reports

During 2019–20 the Auditor‑General conducted no AFP-specific audits or cross‑agency audits that included the AFP.

Commonwealth Ombudsman reports

Section 40XA of the AFP Act requires the Commonwealth Ombudsman to conduct at least one annual review of the AFP’s administration of Part V of the AFP Act and report to parliament on the results of those reviews.

The findings from the 2018–19 review are yet to be published and tabled before parliament; however, preliminary discussions indicate that the Ombudsman will make a number of observations regarding process improvements but no significant or systemic issues are expected to be identified.

The 2019–20 inspection due to commence on 20 April 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions; this was rescheduled for 22 June 2020 and carried out in a shortened format.

The AFP continues to work closely with the Ombudsman’s office to ensure best-practice complaint management in the AFP. The 2020–21 inspection is scheduled to commence on 19 April 2021.

Australian Information Commissioner decisions

During 2019–20 the Australian Information Commissioner made four decisions concerning AFP freedom of information requests. Three decisions were varied but did not provide the applicant with greater access to information contained in the documents, and one decision was affirmed.

Freedom of information: Information Publication Scheme

The Information Publication Scheme (IPS) created by Part 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) requires Australian Government agencies subject to the FOI Act to publish a broad range of information on their public website.

The IPS underpins a pro-disclosure culture across government and transforms the freedom of information framework from one that is reactive to individual requests for documents to one that is agency driven. More information is available on the AFP’s Information Publication Scheme web page: www.afp.gov.au/ips.

Judicial decisions and decisions of administrative tribunals

In 2019–20 there were no judicial or tribunal decisions that had a significant effect on the operations of the AFP.

Parliamentary committees

In 2019–20 the AFP made submissions to, or appeared before, the following parliamentary committee inquiries in relation to operations of the AFP:

  • Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement—examination of the AFP’s 2017–18 annual report pursuant to section 7(1)(f) of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010 (Cth)
  • Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security—review of the AFP’s functions under Part 5.3 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and Division 3A of Part IAA of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)
  • Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security—inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press under the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (Cth)
  • Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security—review of the mandatory data retention regime prescribed by the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth)
  • Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement—examination of the AFP’s 2018–19 annual report pursuant to section 7(1)(f) of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010 (Cth)
  • Senate Select Committee on COVID-19—inquiry into the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Senate Environment and Communications References Committee—inquiry into press freedom.

Significant developments in external scrutiny and capability reviews

In 2019–20 two reviews were carried out in relation to the AFP.

The independent Review into the AFP’s Response to and Management of Sensitive Investigations was conducted by Mr John Lawler AM APM from October 2019 and reported in January 2020 (refer to ‘AFP Sensitive Investigations Oversight Board’ in Chapter 2). A review of the structure and operating model of the AFP was conducted by Ernst & Young (refer to ‘Structure and operating mode review’ in Chapter 2). These reviews were commissioned by the AFP.