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Release of the Inquiry in allegations of inappropriate vetting practices in the Defence Security Authority by the Inspector-General of INtelligence and Security



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Minister for Defence - Release of the Inquiry into Allegations of Inappropriate Vetting Practices in the Defence Security Authority by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

8 February 2012

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today released the Inquiry by the Inspector-General of

Intelligence and Security into allegations of inappropriate vetting practices in the Defence

Security Authority (DSA) and related matters.

In May 2011, three contractors formerly employed at the DSA’s vetting centre in

Brisbanemade allegations on the ABC Lateline program concerning inappropriate security

vetting practices.

The vetting centre is part of the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency which has

provided security vetting for the majority of Commonwealth agencies since October 2010.

As foreshadowed in the Minister’s update on the DSA vetting process on 21 September 2011,

evidence provided to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s inquiry confirmed

that the substance of the allegations made by the former contractors was true.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security found that incorrect data had been

inserted into the security clearance process which was then provided to the Australian

Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and was used in completing security assessments.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s report is critical of Defence’s

management of the security vetting process in a number of areas, including:

- inadequate management oversight, contributing to inadequate and inconsistent

documentation, poor record keeping, poor management and inadequate quality assurance;

- inadequate training for contractors and staff, poor maintenance of training records, and the

use of staff in roles for which they had not completed their formal qualification;

- delayed and inadequate systems upgrades and poor IT systems user controls; and

- sustained pressure on staff for greater output.

The Inquiry was unable to determine whether any particular ASIO security assessment had

been compromised.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security does however note that ASIO security

assessment is only one element of a broader assessment of a person’s suitability to hold a

security clearance.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security found no evidence that staff had improper

motives when modifying data or had attempted to subvert or mislead the security clearance

process.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s report includes 13 recommendations,

which provide a sound framework for addressing identified shortcomings.

The Government has accepted all these recommendations.

Defence has already commenced remediation measures to ensure the integrity of the security

clearance process.

These remediation efforts are focussed in two areas; remediation of vetting processes, and

validation of data affected by the inappropriate work practices.

Specific remediation actions now underway include:

- stopping all inappropriate data entry practices;

- strengthening management oversight, centralising the control and change management of

vetting documentation, improved conduct and management of training, and improving quality

control processes;

- implementing upgrades to the information technology support to the vetting process; and

- checking all affected security clearances to identify information which has been changed

without justification, and to then correct that information, both in the ASIO and in Defence.

To date, approximately 3100 high-level security clearances have been validated of around

5300 applications made during the period of the inappropriate work practices.

The Government has also agreed to an annual audit of remediation actions to be conducted

by the Defence Chief Audit Executive. The first audit will be completed by 30 June 2012. The

results of this audit will be published in the Defence Annual Report.

The Secretary of Defence has written to the three former contractors involved and has

acknowledged their allegations in respect of data-entry were true. A letter from the Secretary

of Defence to me outlining implementation of the Inspector-General’s recommendations is

available at http://www.defence.gov.au/coi/index.htm.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s Executive Summary and

Recommendations are available at http://www.defence.gov.au/coi/index.htm.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s report can be found at www.igis.gov.au

Media Contacts:

Mr Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528

Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999

Mr Smith’s Office:

Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528

Ellen Shields (02) 6277 7800 or 0400 347 473

Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999