Department Foreign Affairs & Trade  
Annual Report - Contents
 
DFAT Annual Report 1998-99






Security Services : Sub-program 4.2

Description

The Diplomatic Security and Countermeasures Branch of the Passports, Services and Security Division administers this sub-program and provides security services to all Australian overseas posts. Activities include protecting the physical security of Australia’s diplomatic and consular posts and staff overseas, and protecting the classified and sensitive information the department handles both in Australia and abroad.

Table 53 Security Services (4.2) Resources Summary

 

1997-98 Actual ($’000)

1998-99 Budget ($’000)

1998-99 Budget and Additional Estimates ($’000)

1998-99 Actual ($’000)

Appropriations

       

Running costs

5 692

6 007

6 025

5 233

Other program costs

7 461

8 052

8 052

7 779

Total appropriations

13 153

14 059

14 077

13 012

Less adjustments

316

2

92

0

Total outlays

12 837

14 057

13 985

13 012

Staff years

53

n.a.

n.a.

50

n.a.: Not applicable.

Objectives, Performance Indicators and Result

Objective



To advise management on preventive measures and new countermeasures and technology to reduce security risks in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Indicator



Improved security awareness through improved analysis and feedback to managers on security breaches, as reflected in the number of security breaches recorded across the department.

In January 1999, the department initiated a campaign to improve further the awareness of security issues among staff. The success of this campaign was demonstrated by a 75 per cent reduction in the number of security breaches for the period from January to June 1999. We will continue this campaign in the coming year, with an additional target reduction of 25 per cent.

Figure 39 Security Services (4.2) Organisational Chart

Figure 39

Indicator



Successful implementation of the recommendations of the sub-program’s security review.

n response to the recommendations of the department’s security review in the previous reporting period, we adopted several strategies to heighten awareness of security throughout the department. In addition to the campaign of a targeted reduction of security breaches (discussed above), strategies included linking staff performance appraisal to compliance with security policy, and an expanded security training program. Visits by regional security managers to posts to provide guidance and to check on compliance have also helped to ensure security standards are maintained at our posts.

Objective



To maximise the protection of personnel, physical assets, official information and premises of the department in Australia and of all overseas missions in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Indicator



The number of security clearances and reviews processed; and the number of outstanding security clearances and reviews.

The department processed 343 initial security clearances in 1998–99. We faced a continuing shortage of appropriately trained departmental staff authorised to carry out personnel security clearances. Despite this, we increased the overall number of initial security clearances that were processed, by outsourcing contractors’ clearances to the Australian Security Vetting Service.

Under departmental policy, security clearances are required to be reviewed after five years. Of the 75 reviews commenced during the year, only 29 were completed because of a temporary suspension while we re-examined the process. We resumed these security reviews in May 1999 and we expect the throughput of reviews to increase significantly in 1999–2000 as vacant positions are filled with appropriately trained staff.

Indicator



Availability of regular security training to staff.

In line with an increased emphasis on security awareness, the department ensured that all staff posted overseas attended a security course prior to departure, and also undertook a program of divisional briefings on security issues to emphasise best practice. Ten of these security courses were conducted; 199 departmental officers and 48 people from other Government agencies attended, all of whom were proceeding on postings overseas.

A contractor has been appointed, following a tender process, to develop and provide regular security awareness training courses for Canberra-based officers, commencing in September 1999.

Table 54 Number of Security Training Courses

 

1997–98

1998–99

Courses conducted for staff going overseas

8

10

Departmental staff attending

125

199

Staff from other Government departments attending

52

48

 

Indicator



Effective responses coordinated by the department to unexpected events and crises in Australia and overseas that impact on the portfolio’s interests, including action taken to minimise disruption to the department’s critical services and operations in Australia and overseas.

We coordinated Government responses to civil unrest and hostilities in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and Kashmir, and to a demonstration at a departmental office in Australia. These responses were prepared through the Departmental Emergency Task Force and the Interdepartmental Emergency Task Force (of which we are chair). These task forces were also used for Y2K contingency planning to ensure sound coordination across key Government agencies, with a major focus on maintaining the Government’s essential operations in Australia and overseas during the critical period (from December 1999 to March 2000). Key stakeholders—including ministers, posts and other Government agencies—expressed satisfaction with the work of these task forces, as well as with the operation of the Crisis Centre.

The Crisis Centre is the contact point and mechanism for assessment of, and response to, situations where Australians may be at risk. It is equipped with the full range of communications equipment to enable it to support the department’s responses to crises. The Crisis Centre was the coordination point for regional posts during the crisis in Iraq in November 1998. It was also used to facilitate the relocation of Australia-based staff from Belgrade to Budapest during the crisis in Yugoslavia in February 1999. This relocation was achieved with minimal disruption in the provision of the Government’s services to the region.

Indicator



Risk-based contingency plans for overseas missions maintained; and advice and funding provided for essential physical security measures consistent with threat assessment levels.

Contingency plans are maintained for all overseas missions. These are monitored by the department in line with changing security conditions in the host country, to ensure that proposed countermeasures are robust. Contingency planning for the risks to the security and welfare of Australians abroad posed by possible Y2K problems has also been a high priority for the department.

Advice and funding for physical security measures continue to be linked to threat assessments for each of our posts. During the year, we continuously updated the threat assessments to ensure that advice and funding were targeted appropriately. Around $8.828 million were expended on physical security measures. Following the bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam, measures such as the installation of shatterproof film for glass, walk-through metal detectors, retractable bollards (to prevent vehicles gaining access to chanceries), improved fencing, and additional grills were provided to high-risk posts located close to US or UK installations.

Staff overseas continue to be the subject of security incidents. Eighty-three incidents were reported during the year, a rise of 15 per cent from the previous year. Some of these incidents were serious, and reflect the dangers to staff of living in often unpredictable circumstances in some countries.

Table 55 Number of Security Incidents Overseas

Type of incident

1996–97

1997–98

1998–99

Assault

7

5

10

Bomb threat

3

2

6

Break-in

14

10

17

Death threat

5

2

2

Demonstration

3

5

5

Harassment

20

6

6

Robbery

14

15

4

Sit-ins

3

1

1

Shooting

0

1

0

Stolen vehicles

9

5

8

Theft

21

2

9

Other

28

18

15

Total

127

72

83

 

Indicator



Client satisfaction with the suitability and effectiveness of contingency plans at overseas missions, and with the level of physical security at overseas chanceries and residences.

Feedback from posts and other Government agencies confirmed the generally quick and efficient manner with which the department responded to requests to review physical security measures at posts. These reviews are conducted in response to changing local conditions, including outbreaks of sporadic violence or civil unrest as a result of political or ethnic tensions, or threats against individual staff members. We also provided strong support for the development of posts’ contingency plans, including through liaison with other agencies represented at posts.

Indicator



Protective security works required by overseas posts completed within budget.

The department closely monitored security works and ensured that such work was completed within budgetary constraints. All identified security works for the year were completed.

Objective



To safeguard the integrity and security of the Australian communications network, residences, offices and information against hostile or unauthorised attempts to gain access to classified or official information, through a program for developing expertise, regular inspections, testing and advice.

Indicator



Completion of the Technical Security Inspection Program within budget.

Security inspections were completed at 24 posts, including the security review of the new purpose-built chancery in Geneva. These inspections were completed within budget, and ensured that posts complied with the current departmental security instructions. During the year, we also provided technical security support for three overseas visits by the Prime Minister.

Indicator



Improved technology
for security monitoring at overseas posts.

The department improved technology for security monitoring through the development and installation of new security countermeasures at four small posts. We also continued our development work on upgrading capabilities for intrusion detection at overseas missions.

Indicator



Improved security compliance of the department’s information technology and information systems with Government security standards and guidelines.

The development of a formal security policy on the department’s information technology and information systems was deferred, pending an audit by the Australian National Audit Office into the operation of the classification system for protecting sensitive information.

We reviewed our information technology and systems to improve compliance with Government security standards. This review resulted in several security improvements, including mandatory classification systems for email, password control screen locks, and warning screens advising users of the conditions under which the system can be accessed and used.


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