In response to COVID-19, ASIO adapted its operating model to maintain coverage of high-priority targets related to our counter-terrorism and counter–espionage and foreign interference missions. ASIO reprioritised its production of intelligence advice, with a focus on national security threats impacted by COVID-19 pandemic responses, and provided assessments in response to emerging customer demand.
In March 2020 we mobilised our COVID-19 Crisis Management Team (CMT). The CMT manages our Organisation-wide posture to the pandemic to mitigate potential impacts on our people and daily operations, and coordinates our contribution to whole-of-government COVID responses.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection within ASIO and the broader community, our staff working in Canberra, the regions and overseas quickly commenced modified working arrangements. Each of our sites and offices continue to monitor local conditions, and have in place appropriately calibrated contingency planning procedures to maintain workforce safety and business continuity.
Minimising disruption to our daily operations has been another CMT priority. We have activated business continuity plans to support our workflows and avert any disruption to our core systems and key services. Because of security challenges, our daily workflows cannot easily be done remotely, but the pandemic has provided fresh impetus to existing programs that test our ability to work beyond the office.
Nothing we do is done in isolation, so our partnerships within the Australian community, the private sector, and members of the intelligence community and law enforcement—in Australia and overseas—have been vital. By leveraging our partnership networks, we were able to enhance our understanding of competing priorities and local and international stakeholder positions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we explored new ways to manage our partnerships within the constraints of new workplace measures. This ranged from proactively supporting our public and private sector stakeholders to manage the additional security challenges brought about by the pandemic, to providing tailored technical working-from-home advice.
The challenges presented by COVID-19 are fluid. We continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation in Australia and overseas, assess potential risks to our workflows, and develop mitigation strategies to ensure business continuity. As situations evolve nationally and worldwide, we will continue to assess and update our response.