The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) is accountable to the Australian Government and the independent Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. As an independent statutory agency ASD has corporate reporting obligations, in particular through meeting the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
- ASD is included in the Defence Portfolio Budget Statements (PDF) and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements reporting at an unclassified level on our resourcing and approach to meet the Australian Government’s direction for our priorities.
- ASD attends Senate Estimates hearings as a separate statutory entity within the Defence portfolio.
- ASD publicly reports on its performance through the release of an annual report.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security regularly reviews and has oversight of ASD’s administration and resourcing.
The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security 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 is governed by Australian law and the Australian Government.
- Intelligence Services Act 2001 defines our role and functions.
- National Security Committee of Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, sets our priorities.
- Minister for Defence authorises the conduct of specific activities and makes privacy rules to protect the privacy of Australians.
- Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and Commonwealth Risk Management Policy 2014 require ASD, as a statutory agency, to have formal governance structures/committees that maintain systems of risk oversight and internal control.
ASD is a statutory body with functions established by the Intelligence Services Act 2001.
A specific function of ASD 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 governments, 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 written privacy rules on how ASD is to protect the privacy of Australians.
The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is responsible for overseeing ASD’s operations, including compliance with legislation. If you suspect wrongdoing, you can make a public interest disclosure to the Inspector-General.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security functions, as described under the Intelligence Services Act, are to review the administration and expenditure of the intelligence agencies and review matters related to the intelligence agencies referred by the responsible minister or the Parliament.
There are a range of other Commonwealth Acts that impact on ASD’s operations, including the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and all other legislation regulating Australian Government agencies.