Accountability & Governance

As a statutory agency in the Defence portfolio, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) reports directly to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP.

ASD operates under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (ISA). The Director-General ASD is the accountable authority of ASD.

A specific function of ASD under the ISA is to obtain signals intelligence about the capabilities, intentions or activities of people or organisations outside Australia for the purposes of meeting the requirements of the Australian Government. This function is to be performed only in the interests of Australia’s national security, Australia’s foreign relations or Australia’s national economic well-being.

ASD’s functions are to:

  • collect foreign signals intelligence
  • communicate foreign signals intelligence
  • prevent and disrupt offshore cyber-enabled crime
  • provide cyber security advice and assistance to Australian Government departments, businesses and individuals
  • support military operations
  • protect the specialised tools ASD uses to fulfil its functions
  • cooperate with and assist the national security community in the performance of its functions.

The Act requires the minister responsible for ASD to issue written directions to Director-General ASD, which must require the agency to seek authorisation from the minister before undertaking certain activities.

The minister responsible for ASD is also required to make privacy rules on how ASD is to protect the privacy of Australians.

Public reporting

ASD provides the following public reporting:

ASD's accountability

All of ASD’s activities are also subject to oversight from Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, which provides independent assurance that Australia’s intelligence and security agencies act legally and with propriety. The Inspector-General’s authority includes complete access to agency records and powers to require evidence. If you suspect wrongdoing, you can make a public interest disclosure to the Inspector-General.

ASD’s performance and financial statements are also auditable by the Auditor-General.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security provides further oversight of ASD’s administration, expenditure, enabling legislation and any matters referred by the Australian Senate, House of Representatives or a minister of the Australian Government. ASD also appears before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade during Senate Estimates hearings.

Senate Order 13 - Entity contracts

The Senate Order, also known as the Murray Motion, requires each minister to table a letter in the Senate for each reporting period, outlining compliance with the Senate Order for each entity in their portfolio.

Senate Order 13 on Entity Contracts requires non-corporate Commonwealth entities to publish information in relation to contracts and their use of confidentiality provisions. Information regarding this Senate Order can be found via Meeting the Senate Order for Entity Contracts (RMG 403) | Department of Finance and Orders for documents – Parliament of Australia (aph.gov.au).

In order to comply with the Senate Order, ASD must contribute as part of the Defence Portfolio, to an internet listing twice a year on the Department of Defence website that identifies contracts entered into during the preceding calendar or financial year, valued at or above $100,000 (GST inclusive), along with details relating to each of those contracts. This listing is to include an assurance that the listed contracts do not contain any inappropriate confidentiality provisions.

A majority of the contracts listed will contain confidentiality provisions of a general nature. These are designed to protect the confidential information of the parties that may be obtained or generated in carrying out the contract. The reasons for including such clauses include:

  • Ordinary commercial prudence that requires protection of trade secrets, propriety information and the like.
  • Protection of other Commonwealth material and personal information.

Contract listings can be found via AusTender's contract notices listing.

ASD does not currently have any non-procurement contracts to report.

Any contract notices or non-procurement contracts reported in relation to this Senate Order will exclude contracts that have been deemed exempt from being reported under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

Acknowledgement of Country icon

Acknowledgement of Country
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connections to land, sea and communities. We pay our respects to them, their cultures and their Elders; past, present and emerging. We also recognise Australia's First Peoples' enduring contribution to Australia's national security.

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra