Back to top

Management and Accountability

Corporate governance

The Director-General of Security is the accountable authority for ASIO under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (PGPA) Act. Our Executive Board and corporate governance committees support the Director-General to fulfil his responsibilities under the PGPA Act. Their roles are to provide strategic direction, manage risk, coordinate effort and evaluate performance in support of ASIO’s mission.

New governance arrangements were implemented during this reporting period to strengthen our oversight of performance and risk management. In addition to our corporate committees which report regularly to the Executive Board on matters such as developments in the security environment, our budget, capability development, risk management and progress toward our ASIO2020 and diversity and inclusion goals, the Executive Board established three new standing committees and commenced a new performance- and risk-reporting regime.

We also commissioned a review of ASIO’s future data and technology needs during this reporting period, resulting in a report titled A digital transformation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. One of the report’s recommendations was the introduction of governance arrangements to support the transformation in the form of additional committees. One of the three new committees included the Transformation Oversight Committee, which was established in February 2018 to provide oversight, leadership and governance—to ensure momentum is maintained and ASIO’s Enterprise Transformation delivers value.

Governance framework standing committees 2017–18

All of the corporate governance committees report to the Executive Board on ASIO’s performance and risk against our four key activities defined in ASIO’s corporate plan 2017–18.

ASIO Executive Board

The Executive Board is ASIO’s peak advisory committee, which assists the Director-General to govern ASIO. Its membership comprises the Director-General, the Deputy Directors-General and an external member.

The board met every two months during this reporting period, setting ASIO’s overall strategic direction and overseeing the management of its resources. The board received regular reporting from our corporate committees on matters such as developments in the security environment, our budget, capability development, performance and risk management, as well as reporting on progress toward our Enterprise Transformation, ASIO2020, and diversity and inclusion goals.

Intelligence Committee

The Intelligence Committee makes decisions relating to ASIO’s security intelligence program. The committee met fortnightly during this reporting period and conducted triannual reviews of performance and risk.

Workforce Committee

The Workforce Committee makes decisions relating to ASIO’s workforce program. The committee met monthly during this reporting period and conducted triannual reviews of performance and risk.

Security Committee

The Security Committee makes decisions relating to ASIO’s internal security program. The committee met bimonthly during this reporting period and conducted triannual reviews of performance and risk.

Finance Committee

The Finance Committee makes decisions relating to ASIO’s financial management program. The committee met monthly during this reporting period and conducted triannual reviews of performance and risk.

ASIO Diversity and Inclusion Committee

The ASIO Diversity and Inclusion Committee makes decisions relating to ASIO’s diversity and inclusion program. The committee met monthly during this reporting period and conducted triannual reviews of performance and risk.

Capability Committee

The Capability Committee makes decisions relating to ASIO’s capability program. The committee met bimonthly during this reporting period and conducted triannual reviews of performance and risk.

Transformation Oversight Committee

The Transformation Oversight Committee was established to provide oversight and leadership to ensure momentum is maintained and that ASIO’s Enterprise Transformation delivers value. The committee is accountable for realising the Enterprise Transformation vision, delivery and performance.

Audit and Risk Committee

The Audit and Risk Committee was established to meet the requirements of section 45 of the PGPA Act. During this reporting period, the committee provided independent assurance and advice to the Director-General and the Executive Board on our financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, and system of internal control.

The committee had four external members, including an external chair, as well as observers from the Australian National Audit Office.

Fraud control and management

Our Fraud Management Group continued to oversee fraud control and management arrangements within ASIO, reporting to the Audit and Risk Committee.

Fraud is managed in line with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework. ASIO’s Fraud Risk Assessment and Fraud Control Framework 2016–18 remain current and will be updated in the next reporting period. All staff must complete mandatory e-Learning on ethics and accountability, which contains modules on fraud, every three years.

The ASIO Fraud Control Framework 2016–18 outlines our fraud control and management arrangements.

External scrutiny

Ministerial accountability

ASIO’s ministerial accountability changed during this reporting period. In May 2018 our ministerial accountability moved from the Attorney-General to the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon. Peter Dutton MP. The Minister for Home Affairs exercises all the powers and functions under the ASIO Act except those that remain explicitly with the Attorney-General. These reflect the Attorney-General’s role as first law officer with responsibility for integrity and oversight, including being consulted on ministerial guidelines, issuing ASIO warrants and authorising special intelligence operations.

We keep the Minister for Home Affairs informed of significant national security developments, as well as other important issues affecting ASIO. During this reporting period, we provided advice to our minister on a range of investigative, operational and administrative issues, which were communicated primarily through more than 230 formal submissions. The Director-General also briefed other ministers on security issues and matters relevant to their portfolios, when required.

We conduct our security intelligence activities in accordance with ministerial guidelines. The guidelines stipulate that we must conduct our activities in a lawful, timely and efficient manner, while applying the principle of proportionality—that is, the methods used to investigate a person must be proportional to the threat posed—to ensure the least intrusion necessary into an individual’s privacy.

The guidelines are currently being reviewed following a recommendation by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS), and we contributed to that review during this reporting period.

The Attorney-General issues all warrants for ASIO to employ its special powers, except for questioning warrants, and questioning and detention warrants, which are issued by a ‘prescribed authority’. If we judge that a warrant is required, the Director-General presents a warrant request to the Attorney-General. Most warrant requests are independently reviewed by the Attorney-General’s Department before progressing to the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General considers the request and, if in agreement, issues the warrant. For every warrant issued, we must report to the Attorney-General on the extent to which the warrant helped us carry out our functions.

Engagement with parliament

Leader of the Opposition

The Director-General of Security is a statutory position, with a responsibility to ensure the provision of impartial advice. The ASIO Act requires the Director-General to regularly brief the Leader of the Opposition on matters relating to security and provide them with a copy of ASIO’s annual report. Throughout 2017–18, classified briefings on specific security cases were provided for shadow ministers.

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security

The PJCIS plays a significant role in our oversight and accountability framework. Its annual review of administration and expenditure scrutinises the non-operational aspects of our work, particularly the effectiveness of policies, governance and expenditure. ASIO appeared before the PJCIS in closed and public hearings for its Review of Administration and Expenditure no. 16 (2016–17), providing both oral and written submissions.

The PJCIS also reviews the listing of terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code Act 1995 and key national security legislation. During 2017–18, ASIO appeared at a number of hearings about the relisting of terrorist organisations.

The PJCIS also conducts inquiries into other matters relating to the intelligence agencies, as referred by the government or the parliament. During this reporting period, ASIO appeared before a number of public and closed PJCIS hearings, including the Review of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017, the Review of the Home Affairs and Integrity Agencies Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, the Review of the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017, and the Review of the Security of Critical Infrastructure Bill 2017. ASIO also continued to contribute to the PJCIS review of ASIO’s statutory questioning and detention powers.

The PJCIS’s recommendations from its inquiries are reported to each House of the parliament and to the responsible minister. ASIO’s submissions to the PJCIS can be found on the relevant inquiry page on the committee’s website.

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee

We appeared before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee as part of the Senate estimates process on 24 October 2017, 27 February 2018 and 24 May 2018. Our evidence to the committee can be found in the estimates Hansard for those days (refer to www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates and navigate to the relevant hearing).

Independent oversight

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

The role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) is to review the activities of the National Intelligence Community and provide assurance that agencies operate with propriety, according to law, consistent with ministerial guidelines and directives, and with due regard for human rights. The IGIS retains statutory powers similar to a standing royal commission.

The Australian community’s trust and confidence in how ASIO fulfils its legislative requirements and embodies ethical standards is critical to ASIO’s reputation and ongoing effectiveness as Australia’s security intelligence organisation. Every ASIO officer is responsible for complying with ASIO’s legislative requirements as well as internal policies and procedures. This includes acting with propriety and meeting the ethical standards expected by the Australian community.

During 2017–18 the IGIS regularly inspected activities across our operational functions, and investigated complaints received by her office. Details can be found in the IGIS annual report.

In February 2018, the IGIS commenced an inquiry into an ASIO matter under section 8(2) of the IGIS Act. The inquiry is continuing at the time of writing this report.

Consistent with our commitment to acting with legality and propriety, we are taking steps to address areas identified by the IGIS during this reporting period as requiring improvement and further attention.

During this reporting period, we continued to work closely with the IGIS to support our independent mandate. This included providing a range of information briefings to IGIS staff on operational matters, which covered a wide range of topics including new operational capabilities and initiatives.

Independent National Security Legislation Monitor

The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor’s (INSLM) role is to review the operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia’s counter-terrorism and national security legislation, and to report regularly to the Prime Minister and the parliament.

During this reporting period, the INSLM commenced a review of the prosecution and sentencing of children for Commonwealth terrorist offences. We are contributing to the review, which is still underway at the time of reporting. Our unclassified submission to the INSLM and evidence provided at public hearings can be found on the relevant inquiry page on the INSLM’s website.

Independent Reviewer of Adverse Security Assessments

The role of the Independent Reviewer of Adverse Security Assessments is to conduct an independent advisory review of ASIO adverse security assessments furnished to the Department of Home Affairs for persons who remain in immigration detention, having been found by the department to be owed protection obligations under international law and to be ineligible for a permanent protection visa, or who have had their permanent protection visa cancelled because they are the subject of an adverse security assessment. The Independent Reviewer conducts an initial primary review of each adverse security assessment and conducts subsequent reviews every 12 months for the duration of the adverse assessment.

We also undertake internal reviews of adverse security assessments of our own volition and, over time, those internal reviews have resulted in a number of adverse assessments being replaced with a qualified or non-prejudicial assessment. As a result, those cases no longer come within the Independent Reviewer’s terms of reference.

In performing their task, the Independent Reviewer has access to all materials that ASIO has relied on to make its assessment and any information ASIO has obtained since the adverse security assessment was completed or provided to the Independent Reviewer, including information from the applicant or their legal representatives. Particularly for periodic reviews, the Independent Reviewer closely considers the overall security environment, which is informed by ASIO’s contemporary assessment of security threats, and any changes to the applicant’s circumstances or ideology during their time in detention.

The Independent Reviewer’s terms of reference are available at www.ag.gov.au/asareview. The Independent Reviewer’s annual report is at Appendix E.

Significant legal matters affecting ASIO’s business

Our involvement in legal proceedings in courts, tribunals and other forums continued at a high tempo. Matters included terrorism and other prosecutions, judicial and merits review of security assessments, and civil lawsuits. We provided information for use as evidence, with appropriate protections, to prosecutions, and responded to subpoenas and disclosure requests.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) reviewed a number of security assessments, primarily concerning the cancellation of passports held by people who had travelled, or intended to travel, overseas to engage in politically motivated violence.

Separately, current and former ASIO employees brought review proceedings challenging Comcare decisions.

AAT decisions are reported on the website of the Australasian Legal Information Institute, Austlii.

Tribunal reviews—security assessments

Over this reporting period, we managed 15 adverse security assessment reviews before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, including those relating to cancelled passports, visas and security clearances.

Of these:

  • one application was filed but not continued;
  • four matters were pending at the end of this reporting period;
  • two assessments were remitted to ASIO by consent for new assessments to be prepared, which resulted in two non-prejudicial assessments being issued in this reporting period;
  • three applications were dismissed;
  • four matters were heard, with three adverse security assessments being affirmed or affirmed with minor variations and one decision remaining reserved at the end of this reporting period; and
  • one review was stayed.

Judicial reviews—security assessments

Two further security assessments were reviewed in the Federal Court of Australia and the High Court of Australia during this reporting period.

BSX15 v. Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Director-General of Security (2016) FCA 1432

We assessed that BSX15, who had entered Australia as an irregular maritime arrival and claimed refugee status, was a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and posed a risk to Australia’s security. The court (heard by Justice Markovic) held that the applicant was not denied procedural fairness at his security assessment interviews because the purpose of the interviews was clearly explained and he was given the opportunity to answer questions as comprehensively as he wished. On 25 May 2017, the Full Federal Court heard an appeal by the applicant. On 11 July 2017, the court delivered its judgement which accepted the appeal by BSX15 and set aside the assessment. The court found that ASIO should have questioned BSX15 further about his other names; in particular, its assessment that he was identical with ‘Muthana Najim Abdullah’. The court found that BSX15 was not afforded sufficient procedural fairness, set aside the assessment and awarded BSX15’s costs.

ASIO has carefully considered this judgement.

Plaintiffs S111A-H/2018 v. Minister for Home Affairs, Director-General of Security, and Ors (No. S111 of 2018)

In April 2018 the plaintiffs commenced High Court proceedings seeking damages against the Commonwealth, release from immigration detention, and the setting aside of the security assessment on the alleged grounds that it was beyond power, used for an improper purpose, made in bad faith, contrary to the principles of procedural fairness, and/or unreasonable.

The case is still before the High Court.

Management of human resources

The Thodey Review emphasised the importance of cultural and people management reform in achieving enterprise transformation. In particular it identified the need for the Organisation to:

  • escalate the adoption of more agile models of recruiting, managing, developing and deploying professional staff and skills; and
  • raise digital literacy across the workforce.

As a result, during the latter half of the reporting period, we initiated a review of our human resource operating model and strategies, with a view to implementing enterprise-wide changes from mid-2018 to 2019. Meanwhile, we continued to advance several human resources (HR) initiatives, laying solid foundations for the reforms ahead.

Recruitment

In 2017–18 we achieved a net growth of 49 ongoing staff. As at 30 June 2018, we employed 1814.9 full-time equivalent staff (refer Appendix C). Our separation rate at that time was 5.05 per cent.

The attraction of high-quality candidates to meet our people capability needs and ongoing growth requirements is one of the Organisation’s highest corporate priorities. At the same time, it presents one of the greatest challenges due to the highly competitive external market for specialised skills and the need for candidates to meet stringent security clearance requirements.

A more strategic and nuanced approach to candidate sourcing was adopted during the year, particularly for intelligence and information technology roles that have traditionally been more difficult to fill. The aim of this approach is to generate more informed and motivated candidates, who both possess the required capabilities and are more able to transition to ASIO employment after a long recruitment lead time. We have continued to shape and refine our selection approach for assessing candidates to ensure the capability requirements of the Organisation are being met.

Over the reporting period, our recruitment for all graduate programs continued successfully, including for the Future Technologist (formerly Technical Graduate), Intelligence Officer and Intelligence Analyst streams. Further, we established a new legal graduate program to complement our other graduate initiatives. Delivering effective junior lawyers upon successful completion, the program provides the opportunity to undertake supervised legal work across all areas of law practised in ASIO’s Office of Legal Counsel, combined with targeted training opportunities, to develop the necessary legal competencies. This new program attracted a strong field of high-quality candidates.

We also recommenced the Information Management and Information Technology Traineeship. The aims of the traineeship are to establish a dedicated career pathway for school leavers and develop critical skills to support the technology capability of the Organisation.

One of the future objectives, reinforced by the Thodey Review, is to invest in the continuous improvement of HR and recruitment systems and processes. Our aim is to make recruitment practices more agile and responsive to both organisational needs and the competitive demands of current labour markets. In May, an end-to-end review of these practices was conducted which is expected to result in further changes to the way we approach and manage recruitment in coming years.

Training

We continued to provide an extensive range of personal and professional development opportunities to effectively meet the diverse needs of our staff during the 2017–18 reporting period, with a focus on positioning all staff to meet ASIO’s Enterprise Transformation program objectives. This included providing training opportunities to support our enhanced career development and management programs and pathways. Notably, all members of our Senior Executive Service commenced a tailored 360-degree feedback and executive coaching program during this period, which included tailored adaptive leadership and change management support.

In 2017–18:

  • we approved or conducted 135 training courses, including 4057 face-to-face training activities attended by 1367 staff;
  • our staff completed 2554 mandatory and 784 non-mandatory e-Learning courses across seven mandatory and 31 non-mandatory online programs;
  • we allocated $316 413 to 137 staff attending over 90 ASIO-supported study programs;
  • we allocated $159 050 to 13 domestic and two international development opportunities attended by 15 members of our Senior Executive Service;
  • we allocated $212 982 to 49 members of our Senior Executive Service for the 360-degree survey and feedback executive coaching program; and
  • we allocated $180 000 to 40 employees under the Language Skills Development Program.

By adopting the 70-20-10 learning model, we equip our employees with the foundational, core job role and advanced competencies required to successfully operate in the workplace across a diverse range of generic and specialist skillsets—these include management and leadership, personal safety, collection and analysis, language, and surveillance capability development programs. We undertake training-needs analysis to understand training requirements, followed by reviews and evaluation to update the programs for continuous improvement and alignment of training with ASIO’s objectives. We deliver our training programs through a mix of in-house learning and development, training by subject matter experts and external training providers. We provide a tailored ASIO-specific training course to in-house trainers to ensure the best learning outcomes—this has resulted in consistently positive feedback from both course participants and line managers, indicating that ASIO has continued to deliver the capability development requirements to support its employees’ diverse roles.

Strategic workforce and performance management

Recognising the critical role of leadership in promoting a high-performance, innovative and inclusive culture, we developed a Leadership Charter during the reporting period. Centred on four overarching principles—mission focused, inclusive, committed to building people, and enterprise minded—the charter articulates the behaviours expected of all leaders in ASIO, regardless of level.

We concluded a review of the skills and capabilities required in our intelligence, executive, technological and corporate roles and developed a new agency-specific and systemised job family model to embed these requirements within future workforce planning and practices. The model came into effect on 1 July 2018.

This work also fed directly into improvements to career management practices which during 2017–18 focused on providing enhanced information and tools to better inform staff about potential career options, and enable them, with increased knowledge and confidence, to identify and engage in relevant professional development. Further, work continues to develop a new integrated learning management system to support the recording and use of performance information, identification and provision of training, development of talent, and career planning.

Performance management

Performance management policy and processes continued to be refined during the year. Building on 2015–16 and 2016–17 reforms, we achieved 100 per cent rate of compliance for employee participation in the performance cycle.

To further strengthen our high performance culture, we are now focusing on strengthening the quality of employee and line manager discussions supported by a training and coaching framework and early intervention strategies to enhance performance. New technologies will also be employed to support two-way exchanges, aid alignment of individual objectives with organisational priorities and goals and help identify current and future development requirements.

Diversity and inclusion

We are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment where differences are valued, and staff are respected and supported to be highly capable, innovative and adaptive. Creating this workforce and culture will ensure we are best placed to achieve our purpose.

In 2017–18 we undertook a range of initiatives in support of this vision, including:

  • releasing ASIO’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2018–20, which articulates our diversity and inclusion goals, and paves the way for us to broaden our staffing profile and harness the diversity of our existing workforce;
  • strengthening our employee engagement program for staff on long-term leave and establishing family room facilities to provide support for staff members with caring responsibilities;
  • rolling out the ASIO-wide ‘if not, why not’ approach to flexible working arrangements;
  • establishing staff-initiated and -led diversity networks that form an essential part of creating a diverse and inclusive culture where all staff feel valued, respected, included and safe;
  • creating a community of support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees;
  • delivering a number of cultural awareness initiatives, including a cross-cultural communication week and training packages; and
  • continuing our commitment to the Male Champions of Change program, including the establishment of a dedicated EL1 position to support this program; and our commitment to reviewing our current targets, actions and transparency in relation to gender equality, particularly for shortlisting and promotion at the EL1 level and above.

In 2017–18 we also gave staff opportunities to broaden their awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusion issues by offering active membership of groups including the Diversity Council of Australia and Pride in Diversity; offering participation in a range of presentations and workshops such as the Global Summit of Women and LGBTI ‘train the trainer’ courses; and hosting keynote speakers including the Hon. Michael Kirby AC, Professor Brian Schmidt AC FRS FAA and leading Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) innovators and advocates Dr Catherine Ball and Dr Cathy Foley.

Statistics on the diversity of our workforce are provided at Appendix C.

Workplace agreement

We continued to operate under our 10th Workplace Agreement, which was agreed in 2016 and expires in 2019. The agreement meets our requirement under the ASIO Act to adopt the employment principles of the Australian Public Service, when they are consistent with the effective performance of the Organisation. The consultation and negotiation for our 11th Workplace Agreement will be undertaken in the 2018–19 reporting period.

Work health and safety

ASIO is committed to providing a safe working environment and ensuring the health, safety and welfare of our staff.

Work continued on implementing recommendations arising from ASIO’s strategic review of its work health and safety programs and performance. Work health and safety governance and performance monitoring structures have been strengthened, and we continue to integrate health and safety considerations across the spectrum of our day-to-day work activities. In 2017–18 a review of ASIO’s Health and Safety Representative (HSR) network resulted in improved HSR representation on the Work Health and Safety Committee. The network continues to engage with work teams and inform them about the importance of maintaining a safe workplace. ASIO’s first aid officers provided a critical first-response function when safety incidents occurred.

Pivotal to health and safety in ASIO is a mental health and wellbeing strategy, which is being developed to complement programs that support the physical health and safety of ASIO staff. A notable event in the health and wellbeing calendar over this period was a presentation to staff by Wayne Schwass, former AFL player and mental health advocate, about his experience with depression and the importance of maintaining good mental health.

We maintained our active early intervention and preventative approach to compensation and rehabilitation. No areas of non-compliance were identified in 2017–18, and ASIO continued to enhance processes and maintain a positive relationship with Comcare in both work health and safety, and rehabilitation.

  • In line with legislated notification obligations, we reported two incidents to Comcare in 2017–18.
  • Comcare did not initiate any investigations into the notifiable incidents, nor were any notices issued to ASIO under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Disability reporting

Since 1994, non-corporate Australian Government entities have reported on their performance as policy advisers, purchasers, employers, regulators and providers under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. Since 2010–11, entities have not been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been replaced by the National Disability Strategy 2010–20, which sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with a disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level, two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and show how people with a disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014 and can be found at www.dss.gov.au.

Appendix C provides information on the diversity of our workforce, including statistics on people with a disability.

ASIO Ombudsman

The ASIO Ombudsman is an external service provider who works to resolve staff issues or concerns impartially and informally, through advice, consultation and mediation.

The ASIO Ombudsman met regularly with our senior management and the ASIO Staff Association representatives to discuss the health of the workplace.

The ASIO Ombudsman provided valuable support and advice to employees and line managers during this reporting year, including:

  • providing advice and guidance in response to three informal contacts from staff;
  • undertaking two preliminary reviews of investigative matters;
  • responding to three policy matter queries;
  • undertaking two health checks of business areas;
  • carrying out two investigations relating to the Code of Conduct.

The ASIO Ombudsman also gave valuable advice on the development and formulation of our human resources policy. The ASIO Ombudsman met weekly with the Assistant Director-General of Human Resources; every fortnight with the First Assistant Director-General of Corporate Services; and every two months with the Deputy Director-General of the Strategic Enterprise Management Group. In addition, senior ASIO managers drew on the ASIO Ombudsman’s unique skills and experience to inform their decision-making on the application of policy.

In 2017–18 the ASIO Ombudsman did not participate in any work related to public interest disclosures.

Property and procurement

The Ben Chifley Building continued to support the business and capability needs of ASIO and its partners. Our facilities, including Australia’s largest security-accredited auditorium, hosted a broad range of events in 2017–18. The corporate suites, including the security-accredited auditorium, were booked on 1692 occasions. In addition, the data centre provided capability for National Intelligence Community partners.

We continued to work closely with the Australian Federal Police to deliver on a range of joint accommodation projects.

Environmental performance

We continued our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and improving our environmental performance. In 2017–18 we participated in the 11th consecutive Earth Hour event, and achieved the following:

  • reduced our total energy consumption by 253 110 kilowatt hours through the use of solar panels, saving approximately $36 000 and 232 tonnes of carbon emissions;
  • increased efficiencies in our data centres by adjusting temperatures and installing monitoring equipment to reduce energy consumption and decrease maintenance costs;
  • reduced our use of water for cooling towers and the air-conditioning plant by fine-tuning processes, and monitoring and repairing water leaks;
  • used 1791 kilolitres of bore water for irrigation and toilet flushing, reducing reliance on potable water and saving approximately $9200 worth of potable water;
  • used 19 240 kilolitres of captured stormwater for irrigation and toilet flushing, reducing reliance on potable and bore water and saving approximately $103 300 worth of potable water; and
  • recycled 23 612 kilograms of waste, including paper products, toner cartridges, batteries, scrap metal and fluorescent tubes.

Procurement

Throughout 2017–18 we adhered to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and associated policy and guidelines. Our compliance was monitored through our Audit and Risk Committee and Finance Committee. No significant issues were identified, and overall compliance was acceptable.

We support small business participation in the Australian Government procurement market. Small- and medium-sized enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

Our procurement practices to support small- and medium-sized enterprises include:

  • standardising contracts and approach-to-market templates, which use clear and simple language;
  • ensuring information is easily accessible through the electronic advertisement of business opportunities and electronic submission for responses; and
  • using electronic systems to facilitate the Department of Finance’s Procurement On-Time Payment Policy for Small Businesses, including payment cards.

We recognise the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the survey of Australian Government payments to small business are available on the Treasury’s website.

Consultants

We entered into 35 new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $10.6 million (goods and services tax (GST)-inclusive). In addition, nine ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $0.24 million (GST-inclusive).

We applied the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and Department of Finance guidance when selecting and engaging consultants. We also followed internal policy and associated procedures that provide guidance on identifying and determining the nature of a contract. This ensured that we used appropriate methods for engaging and contracting consultants. We engaged consultants when we needed professional, independent and expert advice or services that were not available from within the Organisation.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies, and information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website. However, we are not required to publish information on the AusTender website, in line with authorised exemptions to avoid prejudice to our national security activities. A list of consultancy contracts to the value of $10 000 or more during this reporting period, and the total value of each of those contracts over the life of each contract, is available on request to the PJCIS, which oversees our administration and expenditure.

Contracts

During this reporting period, we did not enter into any contracts valued at $100 000 or more that did not provide the Auditor-General with access to the contractor’s premises.

The Director-General has applied measures necessary to protect national security which exempt ASIO from publishing details of contract arrangements, including standing offers, in accordance with clause 2.6 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. Details of our agreements, contracts and standing offers are available on request to the PJCIS.

Advertising and market research spends

We spent $676 741 on advertising in 2017–18, predominantly on recruitment campaigns. ASIO does not fall within the definition of agencies covered by the reporting requirements of section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918