Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Annual Report

The annual report of the IGIS is here, and her current work programme is here. Both are interesting reads.

What strikes me is how much more proactive the IGIS is, under their new powers and resourcing, than in the past when it was more cursory. The appointing of three lawyers to the top role in SIS and GCSB, along with of course the IGIS has made a huge difference.

Some items of interest in detailed 43 page report:

  • In particular, my office is now in a position, for the first time, to give an informed certification of the extent to which the compliance systems of New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies are “sound”, as required by the legislation governing my office.
  • I am pleased to say the task of establishing a fully functioning, secure and fulltime oversight office has been achieved. The office, since February of this year, has comprised the Inspector-General, Deputy Inspector-General, IT Manager/Security Advisor, EA/Office Manager and four Investigating Officers.
  • In the reporting year, I received eight initial complaints and queries concerning security clearance matters and commenced four inquiries as a result. … In the course of these inquiries, I identified systemic shortcomings in the procedures followed by the NZSIS.
  • Where matters of expert judgement arose, NZSIS officers sometimes sought expert assistance, but on other occasions were left to rely upon their own non-expert assessments, for example in relation to clinical judgements and to financial audit matters. It did not disclose adverse information or inferences to candidates for response.
  • As one part of those remedies, I am pleased to acknowledge the agreement by the Director of the Service to give apologies to affected individuals.
  • The Office of the Inspector-General has not previously had a formal policy for dealing with protected disclosures. We have now developed a policy
  • On 9 December 2014, the US Senate Committee on Intelligence published redacted findings, conclusion and executive summary of its report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme. This report documented instances of torture and inhumane treatment of detainees in the period between 17 September 2001 and 22 January 2009.
  • As a result of the Senate report and related material, I identified a public interest in inquiring into whether New Zealand’s intelligence agencies and personnel knew or were otherwise connected with or risked connection to the activities discussed in the US Senate Report. To address that interest, I commenced an own motion inquiry.
  • I certify that the (GCSB) Bureau has sound compliance procedures and systems in place.
  • As noted above, the Service lacked a compliance framework and policy, audit framework and dedicated staffing throughout this reporting period. The absence of structures and policies meant that NZSIS staff, despite their best intentions, were not sufficiently supported to ensure compliance with NZSIS legal and policy obligations. For those reasons, I cannot conclude that NZSIS had sound compliance procedures and systems in place.

As I said the report is fascinating and far far more detailed than anything I have seen before. The IGIS has found that the GCSB systems are now sound, but the SIS systems are still a work in progress, and are not yet good enough. It is good to have this transparency.