Managing Threats to Domestic Security.

Background to Our Audit

The events of 11 September 2001 led to an increased focus on domestic security around the world. A mindset change took place whereby responsibility for domestic security no longer lay solely with the traditional security agencies, but began to be shared across a wide range of government agencies. The Bali bombings on 12 October 2002 reinforced the need for an increased focus on domestic security, especially for countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand has responded to these events in several ways. A number of government agencies have received a total of almost $30 million in additional funding over the years 2001-02 to 2003-041 for initiatives such as:

  • extra security at airports;
  • increased provision of intelligence capability for both the Security Intelligence Service and the Police; and
  • the establishment of a bio-chemical incident response capability.

For the three years 2003-04 to 2005-06, ODESC has endorsed budget bids for $73 million of operational expenditure and $25 million of capital expenditure. These bids have been further refined and included in each department’s budget bids. In addition, Cabinet has agreed that the Immigration Service will receive $5.4 million in 2003-04 and $4.8 million for each subsequent year to strengthen its immigration intelligence capacity.

Legislation has been passed to give effect to United Nations Security Council Resolution 13732 and to obligations under a number of international anti-terrorist conventions. The Government sent troops in support of operations in Afghanistan.

These changes are being driven by international requirements, and by the recognition that the country’s domestic security arrangements needed to be enhanced to reflect the new security environment.

Purpose of Our Audit

We set out to provide assurance to Parliament and the public that threats to the country’s domestic security are being adequately managed. To do this, we examined the arrangements in place to identify and respond to domestic security threats. In particular, we looked at whether:

  • there was an adequate framework to guide domestic security efforts;
  • the collection and dissemination of relevant intelligence was well co-ordinated and the intelligence collected was sufficient to address the risks, goals, and objectives identified;
  • the preparedness and capability of the various agencies to respond to threats to domestic security was being monitored; and
  • there were effective arrangements for monitoring and evaluating the allocation of resources used to achieve domestic security goals.

Overall Findings

New Zealand has taken, and is continuing to take, steps to ensure that it is meeting current “international best practice” in relation to domestic security. New Zealand faces similar problems to many other countries, but this country is relatively small, and the allocation of responsibilities across different parts of government is relatively simple. These are both important advantages in co-ordinating whole-of-government responses on domestic security matters.

We found examples of good practice across all areas, and progress in some areas has been substantial. The DESC structure (described on pages 31-33) provides a good framework to facilitate multi-agency interaction, and has recently been re-structured to reflect the new security environment.

Both formal and informal mechanisms exist to share and co-ordinate domestic security information and intelligence. The capability to collect and analyse information was enhanced after September 2001. The Aviation Security Service (AvSec) and the Counter Terrorist Group of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) stood out in terms of preparedness monitoring. A number of agencies carry out or take part in exercises or simulations to test their capabilities and procedures.

A number of issues still need to be addressed that arise mainly from the number of contributing agencies whose primary responsibilities do not have a domestic security focus. These issues are summarised in the following paragraphs.

A Whole-of-government Domestic Security Strategy

See Part Three on pages 35-48.

There is no single document or collection of documents that sets out:

  • key issues in relation to domestic security – including comprehensive assessments of national threats, risks and vulnerabilities;
  • priority ranking of the issues;
  • which issues will be addressed and how – including explicit goals and objectives to guide overall efforts; and
  • the responsibilities of the individual agencies – who is responsible for what and where each agency sits within the whole.

Notwithstanding the adoption this year of a framework for a whole-of- government approach to the allocation of additional resources, a whole-of-government strategy along these lines would provide a focus for the efforts of the many agencies (both public and private) involved in domestic security. Such a strategy would:

  • enhance the current annual basis for resource allocation by providing a framework for setting long-term funding priorities;
  • provide a framework for other relevant strategies – such as the Biosecurity Strategy – to support overall domestic security efforts; and
  • be a basis for providing assurance to Parliament and the public that these considerable efforts are being directed to the areas of greatest need.

Work is in progress to provide a national framework that government departments and other agencies can use to guide and co-ordinate their operational and tactical plans and procedures.

Further Enhancements of Domestic Intelligence Co-ordination

See Part Four on pages 49-62.

At present, domestic intelligence collection is undertaken on the basis of an individual agency’s needs and mandate, and most co-operation between agencies is not formalised. We believe that there would be benefit in exploring formal ways to ensure that domestic security intelligence collection is co-ordinated across agencies. Such exploratory work would need to consider the implications of formalised processes – including legislative, operational and technical factors – in identifying potential solutions.

There is also no cross-agency information/intelligence system. Such a system would enable individual agencies to share information required for preparing risk and threat profiles, and would potentially provide a reliable whole-of-government picture of any likely threats.

Domestic intelligence co-ordination could consequently be strengthened in two ways:

  • By having a more formal process for identifying domestic intelligence requirements that includes inter-agency consultation.
  • By establishing a computer-based cross-agency information/intelligence system. The establishment of the New Zealand Intelligence Community Network will assist in this regard.

Establishing Wider Agency Capability to Analyse Intelligence

The majority of agencies (the NZSIS, the Police, and the NZDF) analyse and use intelligence as part of their day-to-day operations. For other agencies, there are a number of obstacles to fully participating in the intelligence field. However, the other agencies need to make good use of information and intelligence in order to make the right decisions on targeting and deploying their resources.

There is scope for the agencies with a well-developed capability in intelligence analysis to provide more support to those agencies that need to build up their capability in order to play their full part in domestic security arrangements.

Undertaking a Stock-take of Total Capability

The large number of agencies involved in domestic security have a wide range of capabilities between them. To date, there has been no systematic stock-take of all these capabilities to help clarify what exists and where, and to reveal any gaps or overlaps. A stock-take of capabilities has taken place in certain areas, but a comprehensive stock-take is required to enable the Government to identify weaknesses and decide what remedial actions need to be put in hand.

Whole-of-government Reporting of Preparedness

See Part Five on pages 63-81.

The Government requires assurance on the level of preparedness of domestic security arrangements. Currently, assurance is provided to varying degrees through each agency’s Purchase Agreement.

Some of the reporting clearly notes contributions to domestic security, while other activities are reported as normal agency business. The reporting is required to support individual agency accountability, but does not provide a whole-of-government picture of preparedness.

In view of the primary importance of domestic security, we believe the current reporting should be supplemented by whole-of-government reporting that provides the Government with assurance on the level of preparedness for key domestic security capabilities.

Increased Effort on the Recovery Phase

While the traditional domestic security response elements (for example, the NZDF’s Counter Terrorist Group) are well-practised and planned in response aspects, the requirements of the recovery phase of a security incident have not received as much attention. These requirements include having plans for recovery, and understanding the capabilities that are required and available for recovery.

DPMC, along with domestic security agencies, has recognised this gap and is looking at ways of increasing the depth of plans for recovery.

1: Operating funding of $26.916 million and capital funding of $2.894 million. Details are given in Appendix 4 on pages 91-92.

2: Resolution 1373 is reproduced in Appendix 1 on pages 84-87.

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