Part 3: Developing a Co-ordinated Response

Managing Threats to Domestic Security.

With the range of both public sector and private sector agencies whose primary function is domestic security, and others for which domestic security is a responsibility but not a primary priority, effective co-ordination of effort is required to make best use of resources. Therefore, we expected that there would be a strategic domestic security framework to guide the work of the many agencies involved.

Key elements of a strategic framework would include:

  • a common understanding of what domestic security is;
  • clear goals and objectives (identified through the use of risk, threat, and vulnerability assessments) for the medium-to-long term;
  • clearly stated roles and responsibilities of various agencies and groups;
  • content and quality aspects in line with international best practice; and
  • periodic review to ensure that the framework continues to reflect the enduring risk environment.

Key Findings

The DESC structure provides an effective mechanism for establishing a whole-of-government response to domestic security matters.

The structure has historically been used in strategic responses to particular risk situations and for particular activities – for example, in developing the National Counter Terrorist Manual and in establishing the National Maritime Co-ordination Centre. However, DESC has not been used to plan strategically across the full range of risk areas.

The DESC structure and terms of reference have been amended to establish responsibility to monitor emerging threats, risks, and vulnerabilities to both domestic and external security, and to secure measures to manage potential problems or their consequences. Once fully in place, these changes should give DESC a wider focus and support longer-term planning.

A whole-of-government strategy for domestic security needs to be prepared to ensure that the efforts of the various agencies are being combined to achieve maximum effect. There is currently no such strategy, but DPMC is drawing up a national framework (or strategy) for domestic security. To be effective, this strategy will need to include a comprehensive description and assessment of the risks and threats facing New Zealand, and allocate to specific agencies the responsibility for countering these threats.

A framework was drawn up for a whole-of-government approach to the allocation of additional resources to domestic security, and was further refined for the 2003-04 budget bids. Through this framework, the purpose and rationale for new funds are well understood. However, funding priorities are currently reviewed and set on an annual basis. There would be benefits in taking a multi-year approach, that would assess the resources required to bring agencies up to an acceptable level of preparedness across all areas, and prioritising them over the next three-to-five years.

Effectiveness of the DESC Structure for Domestic Security

The DESC structure is, overall, an effective mechanism for establishing a whole-of-government approach to domestic security.

Historically, DESC has been used to respond to events once they occur, or where there is a high likelihood that they will occur. When ODESC was set up in 1987, it quite deliberately established a broad definition of security – covering natural disasters, as well as more traditional security threat situations requiring intelligence, military and/or police resources, and diplomacy. Since then, ODESC has been expanded to provide an effective whole-of-government approach to a range of issues – from the deployment of troops overseas, through counter-terrorism, to managing the SARS risk.

The following changes have been made to ensure that DESC better reflects today’s security environment:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (DES) co-ordinates and manages the national response to all circumstances affecting domestic security (such as a natural disaster, biosecurity problem, health emergency, or terrorist/military threat) within New Zealand or involving New Zealand’s interests overseas.
  • The DESC structure has been adopted for the management of all major national crises and circumstances affecting domestic security.
  • The ODESC(I) standing committee has been widened to include the Police, in recognition of the key role they play in providing information about security.
  • A new ODESC(P) committee covers policy, planning, and preparedness.
  • The Domestic and External Security Secretariat (based in DPMC) has been expanded in order to provide increased support to the DESC structure.
  • ODESC has been made more flexible to address specific crises and emergencies – for example, the ODESC that was formed to respond to the outbreak of SARS.

Participants in DESC whom we spoke to felt that the structure helped them to achieve both their own and the Government’s goals. Critical comments were about refining the structure rather than challenging it fundamentally or challenging the need for it.

The changes outlined in paragraph 3.10 are important. However, we identified two further key opportunities to strengthen DESC that would involve:

  • taking a consistent ‘over-the-horizon’ approach to threats; and
  • the provision of regular whole-of-government advice.

We also consider that the DESC structure could be used more effectively to assess and monitor the overall preparedness of the various agencies involved in domestic security. We discuss this further in Part Five on pages 63-81.

An ‘Over-the-horizon’ Approach

The majority of the activities that DESC covers are focused on the short-to-medium term. This focus has been reinforced by the fact that, historically, DESC only comes together to facilitate a whole-of-government response to an incident (for example, a specific terrorism threat), or an immediately foreseeable incident (for example, the arrival of a boat carrying refugees or, more recently, the SARS outbreak).

DESC has not been used to plan strategically across the full range of risk areas. For example, it has not attempted to assess what the domestic environment might be like in several years’ time, and what, therefore, needs to be done to address shortfalls in our capability to deal with longer-term emerging risks. Some elements of DESC – such as the External Assessments Bureau and the National Assessments Committee – give it an ‘over-the-horizon’ capability for off-shore events only. Even then, the short-to-medium-term focus means that these capabilities are not used to their full effectiveness to create an ‘over-the-horizon’ culture throughout DESC.

In our view, a potentially effective way to move the emphasis towards the longer-term would be to give DESC the task of drawing up a domestic security strategy. The strategy work would require DESC to analyse risks, vulnerabilities, and gaps. Once it has drawn up the strategy, DESC should periodically review progress against the strategy, and whether the environment has changed in ways that require the strategy to be updated. The strategy would also facilitate long-term planning and funding of additional capability, based on priorities assessed across the whole of government.

Whole-of-government Advice and Reporting

Whole-of-government advice and reporting on domestic security should not alter the accountability of individual agencies. However, such information and advice is required to provide the Government with a complete picture of domestic security arrangements that would otherwise be difficult to piece together from individual agency reports.

ODESC has begun to provide to the Government (through DES) quarterly security reports that cover issues such as updates on potential threat levels, and progress on security projects and activities. We believe that this reporting should be extended to include information on:

  • preparedness of domestic security apparatus – including results of actual responses, exercises, or simulations;
  • changes in vulnerability or risk assessments; and
  • evaluations of the effectiveness of resources.

A Domestic Security Strategy

There is currently no whole-of-government strategy to guide the efforts of the many agencies involved in domestic security. There is no document or set of documents that sets out:

  • the goals and objectives for domestic security;
  • the various roles and responsibilities of the agencies involved in domestic security – including who is responsible for what and where they sit within the whole;
  • key capabilities required of each agency; and
  • identified shortfalls in capability and how and when these will be addressed.

Why Have a Domestic Security Strategy?

Domestic security is complex because it involves:

  • a range of government and private sector capabilities;
  • a co-ordinated and focused effort from many organisations that may not otherwise need to work together, and for some of which domestic security is not their first priority; and
  • efforts both within New Zealand and abroad.

An overall strategy is needed to:

  • co-ordinate efforts to ensure that there are no significant gaps or overlaps in roles and functions;
  • raise awareness of the public and private sector entities that do not have security as a primary priority, and help them to better understand their contribution to domestic security;
  • guide and establish an acceptable level of risk in relation to domestic security – referred to as “risk tolerance”;
  • guide the allocation of financial resources by providing a framework for balancing the benefits and costs of an appropriate level of domestic security effort; and
  • assist in establishing where effort would best be targeted.

Do Other Countries Have a Domestic Security Strategy?

Australia has a National Anti-Terrorist Plan that deals with the three elements described in Figure 2 on page 25 – prevention, response, and recovery. Although not intended to be a national strategy, the Plan includes a section that recognises the need to establish a strategic framework – both in terms of establishing and maintaining international links, and a legal framework within which counter-terrorism can be effectively managed.

The USA released the National Strategy for Homeland Security in July 2002. The Strategy establishes three objectives – to prevent terrorist attacks within the USA; reduce vulnerability to terrorism; and minimise the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. It aligns homeland security functions into six critical mission areas11 that focus on these three objectives. The Strategy also describes four foundations – law, science and technology, information sharing and systems, and international cooperation – that cut across all the mission areas, levels of government, and sectors of society. It establishes the additional resources and capability that needed to be addressed in the 2003 fiscal budget12 and the 2004 fiscal budget13.

Current Position in New Zealand

New Zealand currently has a National Counter Terrorist Manual (the Manual) that ODESC adopted in 1996. The Manual details the policies and procedures that have been developed to co-ordinate the responses of the Government and departments, should a terrorist incident occur. However, the Manual was not intended to provide a domestic security strategy and, consequently, does not contain the essential components outlined in paragraph 3.19 on page 41.

The Manual is currently predicated on the traditional threats (siege/hostage, acts of terrorism) and delivery mechanisms (a combined Police/NZDF response). It reinforces the role of the Police in relation to terrorism as a crime. Responsibility for counter-terrorist operations in New Zealand resides with the Police, with support from other government agencies. The Manual recognises that terrorist incidents require political intervention that is facilitated through the DESC structure.

The Manual does not take into account more contemporary terrorist threats. In particular, it does not address:

  • the prevention and reducing vulnerability aspects of the New Zealand agencies;
  • the levels of effort required during the emergency response and recovery phases of events;
  • the overall framework and the roles that the various agencies play; and
  • areas requiring improvement and where resources – both monetary and human effort – need to be directed.

DPMC has recognised that the Manual is narrowly focused and outdated, and has plans to update it. Key departments have also acknowledged that the Manual needs to be strengthened in respect of emergency response and recovery.

Work is in progress to provide a national framework, which government departments and other agencies can use to guide and co-ordinate their operational and tactical plans and procedures for counter-terrorism. The framework is intended to provide strategies for prevention, readiness, response, and recovery that:

  • meet New Zealand’s national interests;
  • minimise the risk of acts of terrorism;
  • quickly restore normality after such an event; and
  • minimise adverse outcomes.

Key elements of the counter-terrorism framework are to ensure that New Zealand:

  • has access to all relevant information (including secret intelligence) relating to terrorist threats;
  • participates effectively in international collective efforts to counter terrorism;
  • has effective security measures in place to protect the population from the risk of a terrorist attack;
  • has the capacity to respond to a terrorist emergency, and maintains an appropriate state of readiness; and
  • has a legislative framework that enables action to be taken against terrorism.

Supporting Strategies

A number of agencies have prepared strategies that would potentially underpin a national domestic security strategy.

Not surprisingly, given their central role, the Police are preparing a Police National Security Strategy that looks likely to provide a good “second-tier” strategy. The draft strategy is aligned with the Police Strategic Plan to 2006, and is based on six strategic components – detection, preparation, prevention, protection, response, and recovery – and each component has objectives, a description and success factors.

The strategy goes much wider than traditional policing activity, and includes supporting or working in conjunction with partner agencies, the private sector and the general public. It also includes contingency plans in relation to critical infrastructure, the protection of public health and safety, essential government services, and emergency relief.

The strategy also recognises the connection between New Zealand’s domestic security and criminal links around the world, particularly those that operate in the Asia-Pacific region. It considers the links between trans-national crime – including international manufacture and supply of drugs, people smuggling, and money laundering – and the use of the funds from such crime to support terrorism.

Other potential supporting strategies are:

  • the biosecurity strategy;
  • a draft civil defence emergency management strategy; and
  • the National Aviation Security Programme (which is a whole-of-industry strategy).

Tiakina Aotearoa Protection New Zealand – The Biosecurity Strategy for New Zealand was released in August 2003. The strategy has a focus on pre-border, border, and post-border activities designed to keep out new pests. The strategy addresses the Crown’s role in maintaining and monitoring the framework for pest management – under which agencies, industry, and individuals take collective action against pests. The strategy does not focus on the framework for managing the intentional introduction of new organisms; nor does it discuss bio-terrorism (since it is simply another avenue for transmission of unwanted pests and species).

The need for a border strategy was identified in past reviews of border control. The latest review14 was undertaken in 1999 and looked at options for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the border control machinery. The review also looked at border risk management, and noted that:

  • the current border management system is limited in its ability to facilitate efficient risk management;
  • each policy agency with an interest at the border prepares its own strategy for managing risks; and
  • as a result, risk management strategies can potentially be in conflict.

Following this review, the Government asked Customs and MAF to jointly lead the preparation of a whole-of-government border vision and strategy. Cabinet has recently withdrawn the requirement for the strategy on the basis that co-ordination between the agencies will be achieved through the Statement of Intent process.

MCDEM is establishing a National Civil Defence and Emergency Management strategy structure. A draft strategy – Resilient New Zealand – has been released for discussion purposes. The strategy is focused on reducing vulnerability by increasing awareness, reducing the risks, managing emergencies, and recovering from disasters.

Each of these strategies is being prepared from a particular focus. But only the Police strategy – given the security responsibilities of the Police – is driven specifically from a focus on domestic security. In our view, a national domestic security strategy would provide direction – particularly to agencies for which domestic security is not a primary objective – to enable agencies to define their desired contribution to maintaining and improving domestic security.

Assessing and Obtaining Resources for Domestic Security

It is important that the resource requirements for domestic security are adequately assessed, and the effectiveness of the use of resources is evaluated. This should include:

  • a consistent and transparent basis – linked through to the goals and objectives – for the allocation of domestic security resources; and
  • a clear framework for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the use of these resources.

Setting the Funding Framework

Following the September 11 attacks, the Government asked agencies to assess what they needed in order to respond to the changed environment. Their assessments focused on the immediate threats and risks, and whether the actions being taken were sufficient to comply with the Security Council Resolution 1373 (see paragraph 2.19 on page 27 and Appendix 1 on pages 84-87). The Government received proposals totalling $51.9 million in ongoing operating costs, and $6.6 million in capital costs to be spent over three years to June 2004.

ODESC endorsed a framework for evaluating the proposals and their funding implications that provided a method for categorising proposals on the basis of their contribution to managing security risks – see Figure 4 on the opposite page showing the criteria for January 2002. ODESC also set three priorities to be applied across the funding proposals, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4
Funding Framework for Domestic Security

Figure 4.

On the basis of this framework, $26.9 million operating and $2.9 million capital funding was approved by the Ad Hoc Committee on Intelligence and Security on 22 January 2002 and was confirmed by Cabinet on 29 January 2002.

Refining the Funding Framework

The framework was further refined during 2002. In January 2003, ODESC members decided that the framework was at risk of becoming too detailed to be useful as an evaluation tool, so they agreed to recast it. In late-2002/early-2003, DPMC and the Treasury evaluated domestic security bids and made recommendations to ODESC using a framework that included the refined evaluation criteria for 2003-04, as shown in Figure 4.

In our opinion, the framework would be strengthened if it was linked to an overall strategy and used to define resourcing needs for the medium-to- long term. The current annual focus is unlikely to be able to adequately match future needs to the demands that have been assessed through risk, threat, or vulnerability analyses. More emphasis on medium-to-long term planning would also support fuller consideration of those capabilities that need to be established before they can be fully effective – for example, intelligence.

11: These six areas are: intelligence and warning, border and transportation security, domestic counter-terrorism, protecting critical infrastructure, defending against catastrophic terrorism, and emergency preparedness and response.

12: Four priority areas were identified: support first responders; defend against bio-terrorism; secure US borders; and use 21st-century technology to secure the homeland.

13: Eight priority areas were identified: enhance the analytic capabilities of the FBI; build new capabilities through the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Division of the proposed Department of Homeland Security; create “smart borders”; improve the security of international shipping containers; recapitalise the US Coast Guard; prevent terrorist use of nuclear weapons through better sensors and procedures; develop broad-spectrum vaccines, antimicrobials, and antidotes; and integrate information sharing across the federal government.

14: Border Management – A review of New Zealand’s Border Management System: discussion document, July 1999, ISBN 0-477-01879-3.

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