Prime Minister Rt. Hon. John Key has today tabled in Parliament the Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn.
Following the tabling of the report, Ms Gwyn said “It is important that the public have confidence in the oversight of the intelligence and security agencies that is provided by my office and I believe the public should be able to see how the agencies perform in terms of legislative compliance and public expectations.”
The Inspector-General is a statutory office holder, appointed following consultation with the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. In her report Ms Gwyn emphasises that she is independent from the intelligence and security agencies and is not subject to direction by Ministers.
The Inspector-General has significant powers, including the ability to access all premises and documents of the intelligence and security agencies, and to require the appearance of witnesses under oath.
“This report is intended to provide assurance that intelligence and security matters are open to scrutiny”, Ms Gwyn said.
The report covers the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 and is the first report under the expanded Office of the Inspector-General established by legislation in late 2013. Ms Gwyn, who succeeded Hon Andrew McGechan CNZM QC shortly before the end of that reporting period, says she is pleased to be able to present a more detailed annual report than for previous years. The 2013/14 period was a year of substantial change for the Office of the Inspector-General. The previous Inspector-General began the process of change, setting up new secure premises and communications systems, and starting to build a full complement of staff, as provided for in the 2013 legislative reforms.
“I would like to acknowledge the work of my predecessor, Hon Andrew McGechan CNZM QC, for his substantial contribution to the development of the Office,” Ms Gwyn said.
The annual report canvasses thorough reviews of the intelligence agencies’ interception and intelligence warrants and authorisations, the conclusion of two inquiries and the commencement of a number of new inquiries that are now well underway. In addition, the Inspector-General is required to make an assessment of the compliance systems of the intelligence agencies at the end of each reporting year.
Ms Gwyn said, however, that it is not yet possible to conclude that the two agencies have comprehensive compliance regimes. “Due to my limited time in the role and challenges to adequately resource the Office during the reporting year, I am not yet able to certify that either the NZSIS or GCSB has overall systems that are sound. That does not necessarily mean the compliance systems are unsound.”
“While I am not able at this stage to certify the agencies’ compliance, I am encouraged by the significant progress made by the GCSB following the Kitteridge report. The GCSB has devoted significant resources and organisational focus to compliance matters.”
“During the reporting period, the NZSIS did not have an overall compliance framework or dedicated compliance and audit staff. However, the current Director has recently appointed a compliance advisor and made clear her intention to have a strong organisational focus on compliance matters, and I expect that progress will be made in the current reporting year”, Ms Gwyn said.
Ms Gwyn said that she is committed to greater transparency and accountability that follows from her expanded powers, responsibilities and resources. She expects the report for 2014/2015 to be more comprehensive. “My office is now well positioned to carry out a full programme of audit and review that is critical to effective oversight, in addition to strengthened inquiry and complaints work.”
Ms Gwyn plans to make an unclassified version of her audit and inspection programme available to the public.
The annual report covers the period 1 July 2013 – 30 June 2014. Cheryl Gwyn took up her role as Inspector-General on 5 May 2014, succeeding the Hon Andrew McGechan QC CNZM.