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External scrunity

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security

Section 28 of the ISA establishes the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), and section 29 gives the PJCIS the function to review ASD's administration and expenditure.

ASD appeared before the PJCIS at a classified hearing on 13 September 2019 as part of its Review of Administration and Expenditure No. 17 (2017–2018) – Australian Intelligence Agencies.

ASD provided the PJCIS with a classified written submission as part of its Review of Administration and Expenditure No. 18 (2018–2019) – Australian Intelligence Agencies on 14 February 2020. ASD was scheduled to appear before PJCIS as part of this Review on 31 March 2020; however, PJCIS postponed this hearing due to the COVID‑19 pandemic. This hearing was not rescheduled during the reporting period.

Alongside the Department of Defence, ASD appeared before the PJCIS as part of its Inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press on 20 September 2019. Records of ASD’s evidence can be found in the PJCIS Hansard. ASD also made a submission to the PJCIS as part of this inquiry.

Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade

As a statutory agency within the Defence portfolio, ASD appears before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade for Estimates hearings. ASD testified before the Committee on 23 October 2019 and on 4 March 2020. Records of ASD's evidence to the Committee can be found in the Estimates Hansard.

As part of the portfolio, ASD was also scheduled to appear before the Committee in June 2020 as part of the 2020–21 Budget Estimates hearings. However, these hearings were subsequently rescheduled as the Parliamentary sitting calendar was revised.

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) is an independent Statutory Officer who reviews the activities of the National Intelligence Community, including the activities of ASD. IGIS undertakes independent checks across ASD's operational activities, investigates complaints received by their office, and reports ASD's compliance performance through their annual report.

During 2019–20, IGIS undertook a regular inspection program of activities across ASD's operational functions, which included visits to ASD facilities, meetings with ASD staff and audits of ASD documentation.

ASD works closely with IGIS to provide information about ASD's activities, particularly where questions of legal compliance or propriety might arise. During 2019–20, this included providing technical briefings and operational updates, support for a new IGIS-initiated project, and details about legal advice provided to ASD.

During 2019–20, ASD reported three confirmed breaches of legislation to IGIS. Upon identification of these breaches ASD initiated an investigation to provide an in-depth analysis of the incident, and proposed recommendations to mitigate reoccurrence. Two of these breaches were reviewed by IGIS, and the findings and recommendations of the investigations were supported. As at 30 June 2020, ASD is in the process of finalising the report for IGIS's review into the remaining breach.

In addition, two breaches reported by ASD to IGIS in 2018–19 were finalised in 2019–‍20. The findings and recommendations of ASD’s investigations were supported by IGIS.

Briefings to the Leader of the Opposition

Section 27D of the ISA requires Director-General ASD to consult regularly with the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives for the purposes of keeping them informed on matters relating to ASD. During 2019–20, Director‑General ASD met with the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP for this purpose.

Australian National Audit Office

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) supports the Auditor-General to provide a full range of audit and assurance services to the Parliament and Commonwealth public sector entities and statutory bodies specified in the Auditor-General Act 1997. The ANAO is a regular observer of ASDARC meetings.

ASD works closely with the ANAO to provide information about ASD's activities. During the reporting year, the ANAO undertook a series of financial statements activities to provide relevant and reliable information about ASD’s financial performance and position.

In early 2020, the ANAO commenced a performance audit to assess the effectiveness of cyber security risk mitigation strategies of select non‑corporate Commonwealth entities and the support provided by responsible cyber policy agencies against the requirements of the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF). ASD continues to respond to requests for information in support of this audit activity. The outcomes of this audit are expected to be tabled in Parliament in late 2020.

In May 2020, in response to a request from the ANAO, ASD reported that all recommendations contained in the ANAO’s Auditor-General Report No.53 of 2017–‍18 on Cyber Resilience had been implemented.

Judicial and administrative decisions

No judicial decisions or decisions made by administrative tribunals were deemed to have had a significant effect on the operations of ASD during the 2019–20 reporting period.