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Intelligence

Report of the Inquiry into  Australian Intelligence Agencies  

Chapter 5 - Suitability of Current Division of Functions


[Table of Contents]

 
Clarity of Roles
Separation Between Collection and Assessment
The Collection Agencies
The Assessment Agencies
AIC Support to the Australian Defence Force
AIC Support to the Australian Federal Police
Interaction on Counter-Terrorism
ASIO Support to Foreign Intelligence
ASIS/ASIO
Communication Among the Agencies
Conclusion

Clarity of Roles

The clarity of the role played by each agency in the Australian intelligence community, together with the minimal duplication of capability, is one of the strengths of the Australian system. Australia has five agencies focused on foreign intelligence. There are three collection agencies (ASIS, DSD and DIGO), and two with an assessment role (ONA and DIO). ASIO, Australia's security intelligence agency, incorporates both collection and assessment, as well as policy formulation and advice.

In general, the Inquiry found that the community works effectively and cooperatively. While many factors contribute to this, it is aided by minimal duplication of functions. It also reflects successive governments' lack of tolerance for bureaucratic infighting and insistence on broader whole-of-government approaches.

This chapter describes areas of overlap between the agencies, canvasses some options for structural change, and outlines how the foreign intelligence agencies interact with their security intelligence counterpart, ASIO, and with other closely related agencies. The inclusion of sections on AIC support to the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police, and interaction on counter-terrorism, illustrates the significant broadening in all agencies' mandates.

The Inquiry sought a wide range of views, both from within government and from external commentators, on the continuing validity of the current division of labour among the intelligence agencies. Many commented on issues related to DIO's function, particularly on the effectiveness of its support for the ADF.

Some saw a need for greater co-ordination of counter-terrorism related functions. Almost none, however, raised any major concerns related to agency roles, and only one had a proposal for a major reallocation of responsibilities among the agencies, apart from some rationalisation between ONA and DIO.

The agencies' success, by and large, in meeting the demands of a post 2001 security environment and the greatly heightened ADF operational tempo testifies to the soundness of the existing architecture. But new roles and increasing demands have brought about greater challenges in managing interfaces and new relationships. Each agency is evolving to meet the demands, and the Inquiry found no requirement for fundamental change to the structure of the AIC.

Separation Between Collection and Assessment

Within the realm of foreign intelligence, the separation between collection and assessment agencies is clearly defined. The collection agencies do not produce assessments, and although the boundary between analysis (necessary to make sense of the collection) and assessment can be blurred at the edges, the periodic issues which arise around this boundary have been resolved to date with no substantial uncertainties.

The Inquiry found strong support among the customer community for retaining a clear separation between collection and assessment activities. At both ministerial and senior official level, the clarity between unassessed intelligence and that which was the judgment or opinion of an assessor was highly valued. The distinction is also an important mechanism to institutionalise integrity of assessment, by creating a structure in which collection agencies are not responsible for assigning value or significance to the material they collect.

Notwithstanding the value of this clear separation, the Inquiry's case study into Iraq found that there was a need for greater and more dynamic interaction between collectors and assessors, and more information from collectors to assist the assessment community to attribute appropriate weight to human-source reporting.

The Collection Agencies

With the group of three foreign collectors, there is little overlap and no significant disagreement about the division of labour. This clarity, or lack of overlap, is also an important factor supporting collaboration between the agencies - with little or no duplication of function or expertise, each values the others' cooperation to achieve an optimal outcome.

Within this environment, there remain a small number of areas where the agency boundaries are less clear, and where collaborative approaches are essential to avoid duplication or conflict. Technological advances have created an area of common ground between ASIS and other members of the community. DIGO and DSD have recently commenced a project to examine the benefits of signals and imagery intelligence fusion, with imagery and geospatial analysts working alongside signals intelligence analysts to address common intelligence problems.

The Inquiry found no case for the merging of any of the collection agencies. There are periodic suggestions that DSD and DIGO, as the two 'technical' Defence agencies, might be combined. The similarity between the two agencies is limited, and the argument supporting integration ignores some major differences, including the very different skill sets needed to prosecute the sigint and imagery tasks, and partnership arrangements which argue strongly for continued separation.

Although somewhat outside the scope of this Inquiry, there have also been suggestions from time to time that ASIO and the AFP, as two domestically focused organisations, should merge. The Inquiry sees no compelling argument in favour of such a decision, and strong critical factors against it. Like DSD and DIGO, the similarity is superficial. Security intelligence and law enforcement are two distinct functions with separate methodologies, networks of relationships and constituencies.

The Assessment Agencies

The area of greatest overlap within the community exists between the two assessment agencies, ONA and DIO. The Inquiry received a broad range of inputs on this issue, and considered many arguments for and against the continuation of the current level of overlap.

The justification for overlap lies primarily in the value of contestability, which is covered in detail in Chapter 6. In essence, the Inquiry finds that the extent of contestability provided by an area of overlap between ONA and DIO is not the most effective way to achieve the desired result. In an environment of global asymmetric threat, where intelligence is playing an increasingly critical role in securing Australia, its people and its interests from attack, and where the ADF is maintaining its highest operational tempo for decades, a dollar spent wastefully on overlap is a dollar not spent on, say, more collection or more thoughtful assessment. Even more importantly, the small pool of intelligence analysts - an increasingly scarce resource as all agencies expand to meet the new government demands - is not being used optimally.

The second significant factor relates to a widely expressed concern about whether DIO is appropriately focused to meet the needs of a more operationally active Australian Defence Force. There was a perception among those interviewed by the Inquiry that DIO's successful campaign to lift the analytic quality of the agency's output had resulted in too great a focus on the strategic customer set, including those outside Defence, at the expense of its Defence and operational Australian Defence Force customers.

In its report into Iraq WMD, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD noted its concern that ONA may be under-resourced, and suggested that either ONA be resourced at a level commensurate with the demands being placed upon it, or that a clearer division between the two assessment agencies be instituted, with DIO concentrating on military and strategic issues, and ONA looking at economic and political matters.

The latter suggestion would be virtually impossible to effect. A review of ONA and DIO reporting shows that few reports lend themselves easily to such categorisation - economic and political matters are often also strategic, and military issues often have political ramifications. But more fundamentally, it overlooks ONA's role as the peak intelligence assessment agency. ONA's value lies in its capacity to consider and integrate all relevant factors into a single assessment. Its role would be significantly weakened were its mandate to be restricted in such a way. ONA should, nonetheless, draw on DIO's expertise where it deals with defence issues.

The Inquiry found that the committee's first option, that of resourcing ONA adequately, will produce a better result. Chapter 7 sets out a proposed new structure for ONA, with close to a doubling of resources, giving greater depth to ONA's capacity on the near region and priority global issues such as counter-terrorism, greater capacity to exploit open source material, and an enhanced community management role.

In DIO's case, the Inquiry recommends in Chapter 7 that its mandate be modified to focus DIO on producing assessments on foreign military capability and strategic intent, and on intelligence assessment, plans and advice in support of ADF operations.

Despite this narrower focus, there will inevitably remain areas of overlap between ONA and DIO, although these should be significantly reduced. The recommendation in Chapter 6 on managing this overlap is designed to extract maximum value out of what remains while eliminating waste.

Corresponding to the overlap with ONA at the strategic assessment end of DIO's business, there is a similar lack of clarity between the roles of DIO and Defence's operational-level intelligence centre, the Joint Operations Intelligence Centre, in the delivery of military intelligence support to the ADF. The Inquiry believes that the boundary issues at either end of DIO's business indicate a need for some rebalancing among DIO's major functions.

AIC Support to the Australian Defence Force

The increased operational tempo of the Australian Defence Force since 1999 has tested the effectiveness of intelligence support to operations. For the strategic-level agencies the Inquiry is concerned with, the overall picture is good, with significant progress made since Australia's involvement in UN-endorsed operations in East Timor following East Timor's independence ballot. The agencies responded well to the increasing direct support requirements of the ADF and have made good use of the opportunities presented by ADF participation in operations in East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Solomon Islands to develop and expand their capabilities. It is important to note, of course, that the extent to which the agencies' efforts can be assessed is shaped by the nature of the four major operations undertaken by the ADF since that time. The two operations led by Australia in East Timor and the Solomon Islands were peacekeeping, not combat, operations. Where Australia participated in combat operations, the overall intelligence system for the operation was planned and managed by the US, leaving critical components of the defence intelligence system untested in that environment.

Much of the comment the Inquiry received on AIC support to the ADF focused on the role played by collection agencies in support of operations. One of the most effective mechanisms employed by the collection agencies has been the deployment of liaison officers with operational headquarters. Liaison officers typically deploy with electronic reach-back access into their home agencies, enabling them to draw from the full range of strategic-level reporting and database information. For out-of-area deployments such as Afghanistan and Iraq, liaison officers provide a critical link to allied collectors.

Deployed liaison officers provided an important input to the protection of Australian forces during operations. They also assisted the deployed intelligence staffs to develop and maintain an independent assessment of operations in Iraq.

Building on the lessons learnt during these deployments, collection agencies can continue to improve their support, particularly in the way they integrate with the military headquarters and direct their efforts to supporting the deployed commander. Effective participation in exercises and earlier integration into the planning process will help agencies improve their support to operations.

Forward deployment of liaison officers during operations is the 'high end' of the collection agencies' support to the ADF. But both DSD and DIGO provide services or products on a routine basis that serve ADF needs. In DSD's case, this comes in the form of sigint support to operational ADF and allied assets. Its regular formal reporting, while aimed primarily at strategic-level customers, feeds into DIO all-source assessments which support broad ADF planning needs.

DIGO produces a range of regular products of direct utility to the ADF, such as digital mapping support of offshore areas, contingency support packages, three-dimensional visualisation packages, and graphical and animated products to support operational planning and activities.

The assessment agencies' relationship with the ADF is of a different nature. Appropriately, ONA product is of utility to the ADF only at the strategic level. DIO, by contrast, has as its primary customer ADF operational commanders and units, for whom it produces a range of products including formal assessments, military capability studies, country studies, and formal briefing products and services. It also maintains databases on foreign military equipment, capabilities and facilities to service both Australian requirements and partnership arrangements.

Leaving aside the Chief of the Defence Force and the three Service chiefs, who might be described as strategic customers in a peacetime context, the Inquiry found ADF operational commanders had questions about DIO's role in supporting them. Most believed DIO was doing a good job, but saw its focus being at the strategic, not operational level. While few described their needs as being met by DIO product, this was usually not voiced as a criticism, but rather as a fact. DIO's work during the Iraq conflict was an important component of advice to government on Iraq, and has received wide acclaim.

AIC Support to the Australian Federal Police

The relationship between the AFP and the AIC has been increasing steadily over the past decade, primarily in relation to international drug trafficking and people smuggling, and now counter-terrorism. Both the AFP and agencies expect this upward trend to continue. The AFP Commissioner's attendance at some elements of the Heads of Intelligence Agencies Meeting has been a useful mechanism to support closer interaction, but needs to be extended to full membership to exploit fully the opportunities for cooperative efforts. Chapter 4 recommends that the substantive elements of HIAM be replaced with a new Foreign Intelligence Coordination Committee, and that the AFP Commissioner should be a full member of that committee.

While this report is focused primarily on the foreign intelligence agencies, it is important to note here that both the AFP and ASIO characterise their relationship as 'never closer'. The close cooperation, which intensified during preparations for the Sydney Olympics, was consolidated further by the Australian response to the Bali bombings. While acknowledging the challenges inherent in the different roles and cultures that exist in the two agencies, both leadership teams are committed to open and effective cooperation.

Despite the strengthening relationships between the AFP and the intelligence agencies, there remain some significant challenges in balancing the needs of the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

The first of these relates to use of intelligence for prosecutions. This issue brings the different roles of the law enforcement and intelligence communities into stark focus, where the latter's success is dependent on protecting its sources, methods and capabilities from public knowledge in order to guarantee continued access, and the former's success depends on revealing information to secure a prosecution. Lack of appropriate security clearances, restrictions on release of intelligence to overseas counterparts and problems in providing plausible cover for intelligence have also limited the utility of AIC-derived intelligence in some cases.

Issues associated with the use of intelligence for prosecutions will be ameliorated with the passage of the National Security Information (Criminal Proceedings) Bill, currently before the parliament. This legislation, if passed, will allow the use of some AIC-derived material without being subject to public disclosure in court proceedings relating to serious criminal offences. While this will go some way to overcoming the problem, the AFP is undertaking a number of complementary steps to ensure better use of intelligence from the strategic agencies, including focus on internal security processes, intelligence training for AFP officers, better and earlier consultation with intelligence agencies, and greater efforts to develop plausible cover.

The second challenge relates to electronic connectivity, which is not optimised to support interaction outside the inner core of the AIC. This issue is covered in the discussion of electronic connectivity between the agencies in chapter 7.

The AFP is also seeking to have certain aspects of transnational crime elevated in priority with the collection agencies to increase the provision of intelligence on issues such as international drug trafficking.

Interaction on Counter-Terrorism

The primary focus of this Inquiry is the five foreign intelligence agencies and the governance systems that support them. This is a complex story, involving intelligence that feeds the Australian Defence Force, defence, foreign, immigration and security policy, and our trade objectives. Five years ago, the story would have barely touched on terrorism, which then had a relatively low rating in the national foreign intelligence assessment priorities system.

Today, the scene has changed dramatically, with terrorism the top target for the intelligence community. Counter-terrorism is not at the centre of the work of this Inquiry, whose remit extends to ASIO, Australia's key counter-terrorism institution, only in so far as it is necessary to analyse the work of the other agencies. However, given the focus in the wider Australian community on the terrorist threat and the substantial new resources devoted to it by government in recent times, it is appropriate to offer a level of examination of those new arrangements.

The high priority of counter-terrorism has given rise to considerable change in government institutions. The creation of a National Security Division in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in mid-2003 recognised that the threat of terrorism places new demands on the structures and culture of public administration. This division provides advice, briefing and support to the Prime Minister on national security issues including defence policy and operations, intelligence, non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, border protection and certain criminal law enforcement issues. In doing so, it coordinates across Australian government agencies and, as appropriate, with the states and territories.

Within ASIO itself the priority necessarily given to counter-terrorism has fundamentally affected ASIO's focus. Whereas in 1998 35-40 per cent of ASIO's resources were devoted to counter-terrorism, the figure is now well over 70 per cent.

A further major development was the establishment earlier this year of the National Threat Assessment Centre (NTAC), located within ASIO, which provides a 24-hour threat assessment capability. The centre is well resourced, with around 40 analysts directly involved in preparing threat assessments, plus support staff. It brings together staff from a range of agencies, and works in close coordination with intelligence collectors. NTAC assessments, used by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in preparing travel advisories, also form a basis for determining the national counter-terrorism alert level, and inform a wide range of government decision-making about security.

A range of other institutional changes has been adopted since 2001, mostly aimed at building cross-agency cooperation. The Joint Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Coordination Unit was established in September 2002, and is aimed particularly at ensuring that all relevant national capabilities, notably collectors, are supporting significant counter-terrorist investigations and operations. The position of Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, established in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, provides a focal point for coordinating Australia's advocacy for, and contribution to, regional and international counter-terrorism activities at a diplomatic level.

A number of counter-terrorism committees have also been formed:

  • The Counter-Terrorism Information Oversight Committee (CTIOC), which exchanges information and identifies gaps in intelligence collection and develops requirements.
  • The Terrorist Threat Coordination Group (TTCG), which discusses current threat intelligence, specific threat intelligence requirements, and other threat intelligence coordination issues.
  • The Travel Advisory Threat Assessment meeting, which convenes after meetings of the TTCG to discuss issues relating to travel advisories and ASIO-DFAT coordination issues.

Together the changes represent a substantial amount of new structure and activity in government. Indeed, the Government has committed $3.1 billion over seven years to 2007-08 to fund these and the range of other measures undertaken since September 11 to respond to the increased threats to national security.

In the time available it is not possible, and probably premature, for this Inquiry to make a complete appraisal of the range and effectiveness of these changes in funding and organisational architecture. What is clear, however, is that the machinery of government reforms that have been implemented since September 11 and the Bali tragedy represent a substantial effort to deal with the increased terrorist threat. The scale of the response is appropriate and there are no clearly missing elements in the structures and institutions that have been developed. Another clear and positive feature of the changes is that they have been adopted on a whole-of-government level - the structures will require, and will promote, cooperation between agencies.

This range of institutional changes and new structures has, to some extent, developed in an ad hoc way. The Inquiry received some suggestions that this had resulted in unnecessary levels of overlap and ineffective use of resources. The Inquiry found that while there may be a case for rationalisation once the new architecture is fully operational, the case for that to happen now is not compelling. The serious character of the issues being addressed by the new counter-terrorism architecture is such that a level of built-in redundancy in the system is justified if it can lead to terrorists being identified and Australian lives being saved.

Another issue raised with the Inquiry was the volume and character of the intelligence product on counter-terrorism. A number of those interviewed told the Inquiry that, in the early post-Bali days in particular, the amount of intelligence material circulating in the system, including to very senior levels, was extremely difficult to manage. There was a tendency - a natural one - for threat information, almost irrespective of its provenance, to be passed to very senior levels of government. One particular example saw a task force engaged, with very senior officials actively working on it and ministers involved, in response to no more than a single, uncorroborated, anonymous telephone call.

The Inquiry heard that better institutions and processes are now in place to assess threat information quickly, and to ensure that appropriate levels of response activity are generated. They also ensure that not every piece of threat information - particularly not those of highly dubious provenance - goes to the highest levels of government.

Notwithstanding these improvements, there is still a large amount of terrorist-related intelligence reporting that policy agencies need to digest. Like the intelligence community itself, the policy agencies need to establish mechanisms to enable them to manage this increased volume of material effectively. In relation to assessment agencies, it is already accepted that DSD and ASIS will provide information of this sort to ASIO first, so that some level of analysis takes place (and a proper judgment on the significance of the information made) before it is released to a wider range of readers.

DIO has an important role in alerting the ADF in particular to threat information, and its Military Threat Assessments are a vital tool to assist the ADF to understand, and respond to, threats to its members. At the same time, the reporting and analysis of terrorist information by DIO - particularly when it is specific threat information that is being produced - needs to take account of the specific responsibility that ASIO has for the assessment of threats to Australia and to Australian interests abroad. In particular, it is important that the provision of different threat advice to government is avoided wherever possible. This is an area where close consultation is vital, and where a divergence from the conclusions in an ASIO Threat Assessment should take place only after the most complete discussion between the agencies.

ONA has no role to report on specific threat information, focusing instead on strategic-level assessment of the terrorist threat. That is wise, and has served the government well. In other parts of this report, the Inquiry makes recommendations that would increase the size, capability and stature of ONA. While this Inquiry would in no way encourage ONA to engage in assessing individual threat information - a role that should be preserved for ASIO - the Inquiry does encourage ONA to engage deeply on the terrorist issue, and analyse it at all appropriate levels. It would make little sense to make a significant effort to reinforce ONA as Australia's peak intelligence body, and have it work only marginally on the key near-term threat that government and the community are focused on. ONA should be deeply involved in the assessment of foreign terrorism, and should set as one of its goals to be a global centre of excellence in that field.

ASIO Support to Foreign Intelligence

ASIO fulfils a critical role in the provision of support to the foreign intelligence community. Its collection of foreign intelligence within Australia is carried out under section 27A and B of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 and section 11A, B or C of the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979. It is done at the request of either the Minister for Foreign Affairs or Minister for Defence on behalf of ASIS and DSD. ASIS and DSD report this material as they do from any other source. These relationships are well established and work effectively.

The provision of other intelligence relevant to the foreign agencies is generally in the form of formal ASIO product, including threat assessments from the NTAC. ASIO also distributes foreign intelligence reporting passed to it through its liaison relationships. The number of these liaison reports has increased significantly in recent years. This body of formal ASIO reporting has been of increasing value to ONA and DIO since the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the Bali bombings.

ASIS/ASIO

ASIS and ASIO have in common that they are both covert human intelligence collectors. But this similarity belies the substantial differences between the two agencies. Most fundamentally, ASIS's work relates to foreign intelligence, and ASIO's to security intelligence (see box). And while human intelligence is the vast majority of ASIS's work, ASIO's humint collection is only a fraction of its work - it is an integrated collection, assessment and a policy agency.

The ASIO Act defines ASIO's functions as:

  • to obtain, correlate and evaluate intelligence relevant to security
  • only for purposes relevant to security, to communicate such intelligence to persons appropriate for these purposes
  • to advise relevant ministers and Australian Government authorities
    on security.

Security is defined as the protection of the Australian people, as well as the Australian, state and territory governments from espionage, sabotage, subversion, acts of foreign interference or terrorism, both within and outside Australia. This definition also encompasses meeting Australia's responsibilities to any foreign country in relation to such harmful acts.

Another function of ASIO is to collect foreign intelligence in Australia at the request of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Minister for Defence.

Fundamental to understanding the relationship between ASIO and ASIS is the definition of 'security intelligence', which underlies ASIO's role. As the ASIO Act makes clear, ASIO's responsibility is to protect Australia, its people and property against threats to their security from within or outside Australia. 'Security intelligence' is therefore not a synonym for 'domestic intelligence' - ASIO's role is limited only by its function of security intelligence, not by geography.

Similarly, ASIS's operational activities are not solely undertaken overseas. Collection of foreign intelligence in Australia, often in cooperation with ASIO, is a key part of its mandate. ASIO can collect foreign intelligence in Australia at the request of the Minister for Defence or the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Because of the similarity in some parts of the two agencies' roles, the Inquiry heard views on the merits of combining the two organisations. Overwhelmingly, those who spoke to the Inquiry strongly preferred the current disposition of responsibilities. There is a range of reasons for that conclusion: the fundamental differences between intelligence collection against Australians and non-Australians; the very different legal frameworks within which the two agencies must operate; the merits in separating counter-espionage from foreign intelligence collection; and the similarity between the Australian division of labour and that of our key intelligence partners, which assists liaison.

There are inevitable boundary issues between two organisations with different, but in some areas close, responsibilities. Overall, the Inquiry found that the level of overlapping activity between ASIS and ASIO leading to tension was not great.

The Inquiry commends the efforts of the leaderships of both organisations to work more closely together, and encourages further efforts in this direction, particularly where it will reinforce good relations at the working level. Management in both agencies should look for opportunities for joint training of staff, and to continue to impart the message to their staff that cooperation between them is an important part of each agency's mission.

Communication Among the Agencies

Effective communication is one of the hallmarks of the Australian intelligence community. The cooperative nature of the community, the personal relationships between agency seniors, and the relative lack of dispute between the agencies were presented as highlights of the community by many of those who spoke with the Inquiry. These characteristics are noted and considered enviable by allied intelligence communities. There were few criticisms of the relationships within the community and the communication between agencies.

These observations were borne out by the findings of the Inquiry. There is an extensive network of interagency forums, with the longstanding Heads of Intelligence Agencies Meeting at the centre. Created soon after ONA's inception by the first Director-General of ONA, the HIAM was designed as an informal meeting to facilitate ONA's role of cooperative oversight of the intelligence community. In addition to the agency heads, deputy secretaries from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence are members, and the AFP Commissioner has attended part of HIAM by invitation since 2000. Over the past few years it has become somewhat more formal, with an agenda and work programme. Nearly all involved describe this as a unifying and useful forum, not only for facilitating communication, but also as a mechanism for resolving intra-community difficulties and furthering cooperation.

Chapter 4 outlines a recommendation that the business of HIAM be transferred to a more formal committee, the Foreign Intelligence Coordination Committee, but the Inquiry sees value in HIAM continuing as an informal meeting between agency heads.

The collection agencies hold formal bilateral coordination meetings, usually at six-monthly intervals. Their agendas cover both management and operational issues, and they provide an effective mechanism both for resolving organisational conflicts not able to be resolved at more junior levels, and for setting a strategic agenda for cooperation between the agencies.

Finally, there are numerous community-wide meetings and working groups on specific issues. These range from intelligence target-specific groups through to administrative bodies like the AIC human resources forum, and the interagency security forum, established to oversee implementation of the recommendations of the Blick report on security. Some of these are standing bodies: others are formed in response to specific, time limited events. All of these are supplemented by regular desk-level contact between agency analysts. Agency members also participate in a large number of inter-departmental committees.

While the sum of all of this is a well-networked community, this is not to suggest that there are not the normal tensions and frictions which exist between and within any organisations. But the Inquiry has received no indication that any of these are impacting significantly on the community's effectiveness. All were discussed openly with the Inquiry and, where problems have been identified, it is clear that agency seniors are investing an appropriate level of effort to their resolution.

Conclusion

The architecture designed by Justice Hope in the 1970s for the Australian intelligence community remains valid, and there is no need for fundamental structural change. The separation between collection and assessment avoids duplication and provides a clarity between raw and assessed intelligence which is valued by senior consumers. It helps to ensure integrity of the assessment and collection process. The discrete boundaries around the collection agencies' functions avoid duplication and build mutual dependency and cooperation. But overlap between the assessment agencies is not being well managed and needs redefinition, with ONA's role as the peak national foreign intelligence assessment agency reasserted.

Communication and cooperation among the agencies is strong, and is a very positive feature of the Australian community. The leadership of the AIC must continue to foster this environment, noting the inherent risk of inadequate cooperation and coordination amongst agencies housed in separate portfolios.

AIC support to both the ADF and the AFP has increased markedly since 1999 and 2002 respectively, and is generally both effective and valued.

The greater interaction between foreign and security intelligence as a result of the counter-terrorist focus has required deeper cooperation and new structures. Interaction on counter-terrorism is developing rapidly and may need review once current structures are more settled.

 

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