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Program 1.5 - Intelligence Capabilities

The Intelligence and Security Group provides intelligence capabilities that directly assist Defence and government leaders to interpret and anticipate complex issues, and gives vital inputs to strategic and operational decision-making areas across ADF operations, strategic policy and capability development activities.

The group comprises:

  • the Defence Security Authority, responsible for supporting Defence to protect its business from unacceptable security risks and for providing security clearances for individuals in Defence, the defence industry and most government departments
  • the three Defence intelligence agencies, responsible for supporting Defence and government decision-making and assisting with the planning and conduct of ADF operations:
    • the Defence Intelligence Organisation, responsible for all-source intelligence analysis
    • the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (formerly Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation), responsible for geospatial intelligence
    • the Australian Signals Directorate (formerly Defence Signals Directorate), responsible for signals intelligence, and the national authority on information, communications and computer security.

During the year, the Defence intelligence agencies continued to be subject to extensive accountability and oversight to protect important principles, such as privacy, and to ensure the legality and probity of agency activities and functions. In addition to the oversight of the Minister for Defence, the agencies were accountable to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which reviewed administration and expenditure, and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, who provided independent assurance that the agencies continued to act within the law and appropriately and, in the case of the collection agencies (Australian Signals Directorate and Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation), within the legislative framework of the Intelligence Services Act 2001.

Intelligence is central to the ADF's ability to plan and conduct its operations. During the year, intelligence provided important insights into the strategic posture, intent and policy direction, as well as the capabilities and proliferation activities, of countries and non-state actors relevant to Australia's national security.

The Intelligence and Security Group supported ADF and allied operations, principally in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands. Civilian intelligence personnel deployed in-theatre were supported by teams in the three intelligence agencies operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week and providing near real-time support.

The Defence Security Authority worked closely with Defence groups, the Services and defence industry to amend the Defence Security Manual to reflect the requirements of the whole-of-government Protective Security Policy Framework and enhance Defence's security culture. Security assurance and reporting activities were restricted during the reporting period while resources were diverted to checking the vetting data of the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA). No compromise of the vetting process was identified.

Due to reform activities and systems transition, the AGSVA consistently met only one ('availability of the ePack system') of the four key performance indicators specified in its Service Level Charter. It did not meet clearance benchmarks in 95 per cent of cases, but has worked closely with its customers to identify and complete priority clearances. The performance indicators 'action customer inquiries' and 'provide monthly updates' were affected for a period of time during the implementation of a new ICT workflow management system.

The Chief Audit Executive conducted the second of three annual audits of AGSVA reform and found progress in the reform program and compliance with government policy to be good.

The Cyber Security Operations Centre, hosted by the Australian Signals Directorate, continued to provide substantial improvements to Defence's cyber capability. The centre continued to increase its intrusion detection and threat assessment capabilities and improved its capacity to respond to incidents affecting systems of national importance.

The directorate continued to work closely with Defence and other government agencies to ensure Australia is protected against new emerging cyber threats and is adequately positioned to meet the Government's requirement to implement the directorate's Top 4 Strategies to Mitigate Targeted Cyber Intrusions, which became mandatory in early 2013. Advice and assistance included producing and disseminating threat assessments, security alerts and guidance, hosting information security workshops and forums to communicate and discuss significant and emerging information security issues with government IT security practitioners, updating the Australian Government Information Security Manual, and conducting vulnerability assessments on Australian Government assets.

Table 3.16 - Program 1.5 deliverables

Table 3.16 - Program 1.5 deliverables
Deliverable Status
Provide timely, accurate and high-quality intelligence and security support in accordance with government priorities to support the ADF, policy and wider security operations met
Deliver enhanced capabilities to better exploit next generation technologies, improve intelligence assessment, and enhance the security of the Government's information met
Provide advice and assistance to the Government on the security and integrity of electronic information, cryptography and communications technology met
Meet the AGSVA's key performance results as specified in the agency's Service Level Charter Partially met
Strengthen the management framework of the AGSVA Substantially met
Provide management and strategic direction for Defence's foreign language capability met
Ensure the effectiveness of the intelligence and security governance and compliance framework Substantially met
Strengthen the workforce through targeted recruitment, retention and training initiatives Met
Ensure effective and efficient transfer of expertise, capabilities and intelligence across key international partnerships, and strengthen collaboration with national agencies Met
Contribute to reform outcomes Met

Table 3.17 Program 1.5 - key performance indicators

Table 3.17 Program 1.5 - key performance indicators
Key performance indicator Status
Deliver intelligence and security services to meet Defence and government requirements Met
Develop next generation intelligence, geospatial and security capabilities Met
Strengthen the approach to security across Defence and government Substantially met
Deliver strategic guidance and management support to meet Defence's foreign language requirements Met
Achieve best practice in governance and compliance Substantially met
Ensure that the intelligence and security workforce is developed and skilled Met
Deliver capability dividends through international and national partnerships Met

The Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation continued to advance two major projects, JP 2044 and JP 2064. In June 2013, the Government gave combined first and second pass approval for JP 2044 phase 4A, which will improve digital topographical systems to strengthen interoperability with allies and deliver improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the ADF. Additionally, JP 2064, which remains subject to approval, is intended to deliver geospatial information and services enabling Defence personnel and systems to visualise, access, use and exploit geospatial information.

The classified document Strategic guidance for the Defence foreign language capability was released in July 2012. The guidance enables the Deputy Secretary for Intelligence and Security (as the foreign language coordinating capability manager for Defence) to provide strategic-level advice on Defence's foreign language capability to ensure it continues to be developed and maintained to meet emerging global priorities. The Defence Foreign Language Reference Group was established in October 2012 and meets biannually to consider changes in the strategic environment, revisions to foreign language capability targets and training needs, and consequential revisions to the guidance to maintain its utility.

The Intelligence and Security Group sustained a consolidated approach to human resource management by implementing group-wide recruitment, retention and training initiatives and processes, and improving the provision of targeted human resource strategies to address specialist capabilities and requirements. In 2012-13, the Defence Investigative Authorities conducted the first consolidated intelligence graduate recruitment program; the first graduates of this program commenced in February 2013. The Australian Signals Directorate established an unclassified facility in February 2012 with a mission to support the directorate's long-term recruitment interests through an education outreach program. This program continues to promote the directorate as an employer of choice through student placements and university internships. The facility continues to support the directorate's recruitment and retention efforts by allowing staff to undertake unclassified, but critical, work while they await their security clearances.