Australian Secret Intelligence Service, Australia's overseas secret intelligence collection agency
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Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security

Although the Minister for Foreign Affairs is accountable to Parliament for ASIS on a day-to-day basis, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) forms a crucial oversight role for all Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) agencies.

In addition to reviewing the administration and expenditure of ASIS and the other AIC agencies, the PJCIS examines any matters relating to the agencies that have been referred to it by the responsible minister or through a resolution from either House of Parliament.

The PJCIS’s review of administration and expenditure is conducted at least annually and the findings are published in its annual report. The PJCIS may initiate its own inquiries into aspects of AIC administration and expenditure.

The PJCIS’s focus on budget and administration reflects the complementary role that the Committee serves when compared to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) who deals with legality and propriety issues, including the detailed operational activities of intelligence and security agencies.

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) has strong legislative backing (with powers akin to those of a standing Royal Commission), that enables the IGIS to provide independent assurance that the intelligence agencies act legally, with propriety, in accordance with Ministerial directions and with regard to human rights.

The Inspector-General can initiate inquiries of his or her own motion, or in response to a request by the Prime Minister, or a Minister responsible for an intelligence agency. In certain circumstances, the IGIS can make inquiries in response to a complaint.

The Inspector-General’s authority includes complete access to agency records and powers to require evidence. The Inspector-General also has authority to inspect ASIS files and conduct retrospective audits of any ASIS activity at any time.

The Inspector-General makes an annual public report – tabled in Parliament - on the work of his office, including details (which may be sanitised for security purposes) on the nature and number of any complaints received.

Australian National Audit Office

ASIS’s financial accounts are fully audited by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and we are subject to the performance audit powers under section 19 of the Auditor-General Act 1997.

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