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Corporate Plan 2018–19

Director-General's introduction

It is my pleasure to present the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Corporate Plan 2018–19 (PDF). It is ASD’s first Corporate Plan as a statutory agency, which covers the period 2018–19 to 2021–22, as required under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

In July 2017, the Australian Government agreed with the recommendation of the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review (the Review) that ASD become a statutory agency within the Defence Portfolio, given its increased national responsibilities, especially in relation to cyber security and the critical operational capabilities that ASD provides to the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The Review also recommended that ASD’s legislative mandate be amended to explicitly recognise its national responsibilities for cyber security, including the provision of advice and assistance to businesses and the community, and that it take formal responsibility for the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).

On 1 July 2018, following the passage of the enabling legislation through Parliament on 28 March 2018, ASD became a statutory agency. This is the most significant change to the organisation since the Defence Signals Bureau was established seventy-one years ago, in the aftermath of the Second World War.

ASD’s functions today 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 focus of these new functions on cyber security will not distract from ASD’s mission to support ADF operations globally and in the Indo-Pacific. The pace of technological change and the introduction of 5th-generation weapons systems in our region necessitate ASD’s support to military operations. This support comprises in-theatre operational effects, enhanced situational awareness and critical technical counter-measures.

The threat of terrorism will continue to present a major security threat globally and in our region. ASD will remain integral to Australia’s counter-terrorism response, delivering technological expertise and insight for the national security community to identify and disrupt terrorist threats – especially as they are being increasingly organised on the internet.

Faced with such complex strategic threats, ASD will place a premium on nurturing strong partnerships with the Australian national security community, its overseas intelligence partners, academia and industry. While these partnerships have always been important to ASD, the strategic environment’s complexity and rate of change demand closer integration and collaboration. In line with this direction, ASD will actively assist the soon to be formed Office of National Intelligence (ONI) by collaborating on implementing the Review’s recommendations for managing the National Intelligence Community as a genuinely national enterprise.

As recognised in the Review, recruiting and retaining specialist staff has become increasingly difficult due to the private sector competing for the talent ASD needs. ASD will therefore use its transition to a statutory agency as a chance to design new career pathways and employment opportunities that better reflect the kind of work that ASD does, so that it can better recruit, retain, train and develop its specialist staff. By harnessing a uniquely skilled workforce, empowered by partner agencies and innovative technology, ASD is best placed to master technology and its application. This will allow ASD to efficiently deliver unique intelligence, leading cyber security advice and assistance, and effects at scale in support of military operations and in countering terrorism and offshore cyber-enabled crime.

With such an historic change occurring, this Corporate Plan provides a new opportunity for ASD to articulate its purpose and set a baseline for how we will measure success against that purpose.

I am committed to leading an ASD that performs effectively and meets the expectations the Australian Government, industry and community set for us. Meeting and exceeding those expectations is vital in assuring our stakeholders that their trust in us is not misplaced. ASD’s strengthened and new corporate functions, which are being introduced, will be integral to this reassurance. Our corporate functions will enable us to achieve the highest standards of governance, performance and accountability, and demonstrate those achievements to the Australian Government, industry and community.

As ASD’s inaugural Director-General, I look forward to leading ASD into this next chapter of its history. While there will remain challenges ahead, I am confident that ASD, working closely with our partners, will continue to defend Australia from global threats and advance Australia’s national interests.

Mike Burgess
Director-General ASD

ASD's purpose

ASD’s purpose is to defend Australia against global threats and advance our national interests through the provision of foreign signals intelligence, cyber security and offensive cyber operations as directed by the Australian Government.

In order to do this, ASD masters technology and its application to inform (signals intelligence), protect (cyber security) and disrupt (offensive cyber operations).

Our strategic objectives are to:

  • Deliver strategic advantage for Australia by providing intelligence that protects and advances Australia’s national interest

  • Lead in cyber security, making Australia the safest place to connect online and foster national cyber security resilience

  • Support military operations, enabling the war fighter, and protecting Defence personnel and assets

  • Counter cyber-enabled threats, protecting Australia and Australians by countering cyber-enabled crime and disrupting terrorists’ use of the internet

  • Provide trusted advice and expertise, delivering timely, quality advice to government, law enforcement, business and the community.

ASD’s commitment to legality and propriety

ASD is committed to fulfilling its purpose in accordance with the law. This is reflected in our values to be meticulous in execution, always acting legally and ethically, and being accountable to the public through government for everything we do. ASD recognises that its signals intelligence capabilities are uniquely intrusive, and its offensive cyber operations even more so. That is why maintaining the Australian Government’s and the Australian public’s trust, by demonstrating that ASD operates legally and with propriety, is of the utmost importance to ASD.

Demonstrating legality and propriety is the role of ASD’s comprehensive oversight and accountability framework – where legislative, ministerial, parliamentary and independent oversight elements complement each other to provide extensive assurance that ASD will continue to meet this commitment.

ASD values

  1. We make a difference

    • We give our customers the critical edge

    • Our output affects operations and policy

    • Our products are unique

  2. We strive for excellence

    • We seek and foster talent

    • We are world class

    • We are committed and enthusiastic

    • We are flexible and responsive

  3. We belong to a great team

    • We succeed through teamwork

    • We recognise others’ inputs

    • We support and care about each other

    • We all contribute

  4. We are audacious in concept

    • We operate in the slim area between the difficult and the impossible

  5. We are meticulous in execution

    • We always act legally and ethically

    • We are accountable to the public through government for everything we do

    • We manage risk effectively

As of 1 July 2018, ASD employees are no longer Australian Public Servants, but importantly we will continue to uphold the principles of the Australian Public Service Values.

ASD's organisational chart

Minister for Defence: Senator the Hon Marise Payne

  • Director-General: Mike Burgess
    • Principal Deputy Director-General: LTGEN John Frewen DSC AM
      • Executive
      • Special Counsel
      • Office of Audit and Risk
    • Deputy Director-General Corporate and Capability: Hazel Bennett
    • Deputy Director-General Sigint and Network Operations: Simeon Gilding
    • Head, Australian Cyber Security Centre: Alastair MacGibbon