The Annual Report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) for the 2017-18 year has been tabled in Parliament by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
The Inspector-General, Cheryl Gwyn says, “The Office of the IGIS has managed to get through a substantial amount of work during the year. I have published two inquiry reports and have completed five reviews, and initiated several more.
“For each report, I work with the Director-General of the relevant agency to try and provide as much information as possible publicly without compromising national security. Over the course of the year, they have worked cooperatively with me in settling the operational detail that can be published.
“My report on Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) activities in the South Pacific was, I believe, a turning point for transparency. The level of detail was a significant step forward in giving the public meaningful information about the activities of the intelligence agencies.
“The Review of the New Zealand security classification system also encourages greater transparency through not over-classifying, and recommends a more proactive approach to de-classifying material.
“Two more reviews are set to be published before the end of the calendar year.
“A Review of the NZSIS handling of privileged communications and privileged information, looks at certain confidential relationships which are protected to a high degree from third party interference, including by the State.
“The other, Review of NZSIS requests made without warrants to financial service providers is an issue that I am aware already has a high level of public interest.
“I maintain a register of all the recommendations I make in my various reports, monitor implementation and discuss progress with the relevant agency. I work with the agencies to ensure that my recommendations both meet the need I have identified, and are practical and capable of being implemented. Generally, the agencies are supportive of my recommendations.
“In other areas of our work, my office reviewed a total of 65 GCSB warrants and 32 NZSIS warrants. Some warrants under the new Intelligence and Security Act led to concerns of interpretation and drafting, but these are being addressed.
“All but two complaints I received in 2017/18 were completed within four months.
“Overall, I certify that both the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and the GCSB each have sound compliance procedures and systems in place.”
The IGIS has oversight of the two security and intelligence agencies, and annual certification that they have adequate arrangements in place to ensure staff comply with the law is a requirement of the IGIS’s role.
“Looking ahead, for both agencies, I expect they will be able to respond to my office’s requests for information and clarification, and to the substance of draft reports, in a more timely manner.
“The past year has seen a heavy focus on implementing the Intelligence and Security Act 2017, with associated development of policies, procedures, training and resolving interpretation of some key warranting provisions. It was a heavier workload than anticipated, but is largely complete.”
The annual report is available at www.igis.govt.nz/publications/annual-reports
Media contact: Antony Byers 027 5438 735