ASD’s ability to deliver on the outcomes described in its corporate plan is influenced by changes in its operating environment. These factors are key to ASD’s efforts to evolve its business, ensuring it is well-positioned to continue to help keep Australia safe.
Australia’s security and prosperity rely on a secure, stable, prosperous and rules-based region. As communicated in the Defence Strategic Update 2020, our region is in the midst of the most consequential strategic realignment since the Second World War. The Indo-Pacific is at the centre of a greater strategic competition, making the region more contested and apprehensive: military modernisation has accelerated faster than expected, major power competition has intensified, and the conduct of ‘grey zone’ activities has expanded. These trends are continuing and will potentially sharpen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ASD’s capabilities provide the Australian Government with intelligence and cyber security expertise that deliver strategic advantage, policy and advice that protects national security and sovereignty, and practical support that informs law enforcement and military operations. Across the life of this corporate plan, ASD will continue to invest in developing its workforce and technology to ensure it responds flexibly to the changing priorities of the Australian Government.
Technological advances provide great benefit to our society, but these advances can also introduce risk.
ASD’s mastery of technology enables it to protect Australia from global threats. But technology is evolving rapidly. State and non-state actors can access increasingly sophisticated communications technologies – and the tools to exploit them.
ASD has a dual role as a trusted adviser in assisting the Australian Government to navigate major technological change, and to exploit technology to deliver foreign signals intelligence, cyber security and offensive cyber operations in support of Australian Government priorities.
ASD has always evolved its capabilities in response to technological change. In the years covered by this corporate plan, the challenge of maintaining mastery of technology will become more complex and demanding. To meet this challenge, ASD will enhance STEM skills in its workforce and invest in new and emerging technologies.
As an intelligence and security agency, ASD has been entrusted with sensitive powers. ASD takes this responsibility very seriously.
ASD’s functions are set out in the Intelligence Services Act 2001, along with the limitations on its functions. ASD is accountable for its actions under this legislation to the Australian Government, the Minister for Defence and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. ASD’s activities are regularly reviewed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security – who has the powers of a standing Royal Commission – to provide independent assurance that ASD acts legally and ethically.
ASD recognises the importance of maintaining the trust of the Australian Government and the Australian public.
While ASD may not be able to share the details of its operations for security reasons, for the duration of this corporate plan and beyond, ASD will seek to increase the information it shares with Australians about its functions. It is committed to assisting Australians in understand the principles on which ASD makes decisions, the way it protects the privacy of Australians, and its strong culture of operating within the spirit and letter of the law.
In a complex and evolving world, ASD cannot operate effectively alone. Strong partnerships underpin ASD’s ability to understand global threats, collect foreign signals intelligence, formulate and implement cyber security advice, and conduct offensive cyber operations in support of the Australian Government.
ASD has a long history of working effectively with its partners in the National Intelligence Community (NIC), Australian federal, state and local government entities, the Australian Defence Force, academia, and industry. ASD collaborates across both the private and public sector, providing advice and assistance to prevent and combat threats and minimise harm to Australians.
ASD has long-standing, robust and meaningful ties with its Five-Eyes counterparts in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, and other international partnerships, including through the international network of Cyber Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).
In the period covered by this corporate plan, ASD will strengthen partnerships with its counterpart agencies, state, territory and federal government agencies, industry, academia, and think-tanks to meet the Australian Government’s strategic objectives and operational needs. ASD will also continue to strengthen partnerships with all levels of government, critical infrastructure operators and Australian businesses to boost Australia’s whole-of-economy cyber defence capabilities.
The Australian Government has made a significant investment in building ASD’s foreign signals intelligence, cyber security and offensive cyber operations capabilities.
ASD is continuing to refine and enhance its governance and accountability frameworks, including enterprise performance management and fit-for-purpose financial management systems, to ensure it is operating efficiently, sustainably and responsibly within its forward budget.