Chapter 3


This chapter considers the performance of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) against its outcome in the Home Affairs Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19 (PBS), and its key performance criteria as outlined in the ACIC Corporate Plan 2018–19 to 2021–22 and Strategic Plan 2018–23.

Portfolio Budget Statement Outcome 1

The 2018–19 PBS outlines the ACIC's single outcome (Outcome 1):
[T]o make Australia safer through improved national ability to discover, understand and respond to current and emerging crime threats and criminal justice issues, including the ability to connect police and law enforcement to essential criminal intelligence, policing knowledge and information through collaborative national information systems and services.1
The PBS notes that the ACIC is an agency that:
… works across national boundaries to provide national policing information systems and services and to bring together Commonwealth, state and territory government partners from law enforcement, intelligence, regulatory and other agencies to achieve the ACIC's outcome of making Australia safer. Every activity the ACIC undertakes has an intersection and linkage with another agency or organisation (including some international partners and private industry).2
The ACIC noted in its 2018–19 Annual Report (annual report), that the relevant information is unavailable to measure how its systems and services achieve the outcome 'to make Australia safer'.3 As a proxy measure, the ACIC assesses 'how well [it]… informed and enabled [its] partners through access to [its] national information systems and services'.4

Performance criteria

The ACIC performance criteria for 2018–19 are linked to its PBS outcome through the Corporate Plan 2018–19 to 2020–21 and Strategic Plan 2018–23. These two plans categorise the ACIC's approach to its work and related performance criteria into four themes:
Discover (Discover 1);
Understand (Understand 1 & 2);
Respond (Respond 1, 2A & 2B) and,
Connect (Connect 1, 2, 3).5
Table 3.1 outlines the ACIC performance criteria and overall result for each criterion for the 2018–19 year.
Table 3.1:  ACIC performance criteria results
Performance criteria
Discover 1: The picture of crime impacting Australia is improving because the ACIC is discovering crime threats, vulnerabilities, patterns, methods and trends previously unknown.
Understand 1: The understanding of the picture of crime impacting Australia is increasingly more comprehensive, integrated, and relevant.
Partially met
Understand 2: The understanding of the picture of crime impacting Australia is increasingly used to influence strategies and responses to crime.
Respond 1 (Prevent): The ACIC better informs and influences collaborative efforts to harden the environment against crime.
Respond 2A (Disrupt): The ACIC is conducting collaborative investigations and intelligence operations, and producing intelligence with and for partners that is effective in disrupting, disabling and dismantling serious and organised crime.
Respond 2B (Protect): ACIC partners are better informed and enabled to undertake policing and community safeguarding activities through access to national information systems and services.
Connect 1: Existing ACIC systems and services are accessible, used and reliable.
Connect 2: Through effective collaboration, enable the delivery and implementation of new and enhanced ACIC systems and services that satisfy the needs of stakeholders and users.
Partially met
Connect 3: The ACIC is sharing increasing volume, breadth and formats (mediums, platforms) of criminal intelligence and information, police information, and other relevant information.
Source: Annual Report 2018–19, pp. iii and 16–57.
There are three changes to note in the performance criteria for 2018–19:
Performance criteria 2 and 3 under the Respond theme have been renumbered to 2A and 2B respectively, with no explanation for this renumbering.
More detail and clarity has been provided to performance criteria Respond 2A and Connect 2. The additional wording does not alter the purpose of the criteria.
Performance criterion Connect 4, which related to relationships with domestic and international partners, has been removed. No explanation for the removal is provided, nor is the criterion captured in one of the remaining criteria.
The annual report provides an analysis of the ACIC's performance against each performance criterion. Wherever possible, the ACIC's performance assessment incorporates a mix of quantitative and qualitative information including the results of its annual stakeholder survey.6 The annual report noted that the ACIC 'focused on providing fewer qualitative highlights but more details about the effectiveness of each of [its] activities'.7

Analysis of performance results

As demonstrated in Table 3.1, the ACIC met in full seven of its nine performance criteria for the 2018–19 year. The ACIC assessed itself as meeting its purpose on the basis it achieved a majority of performance measures.8 The ACIC noted that decreases in some quantitative results were the result of focusing on disrupting high-priority serious organised crime threats.9
The ACIC acknowledged '[t]here are some areas for improvement with regard to stakeholder consultation and partner collaboration on the development of products, systems and services'.10 Based on the feedback from the stakeholder survey, the ACIC 'intend[s] to work on areas for improvement, including stakeholder engagement; project management and delivery; timeliness; and the clear articulation of … [its] strategic direction and role'.11
Overall, stakeholders rated the ACIC's general performance as 6.9 (on a scale of 1 to 10).12 This is a similar result to the previous two years that this survey has operated.13
Due to the ACIC's focus on high-priority serious organised crime threats, the committee has selected the relevant criterion as a sample of the ACIC's notable results.

Discover 1

This criterion includes the Australian Priority Organisation Target (APOT) list, which the ACIC considers a key element of its focus. At the committee's public hearing on 8 May 2020, Mr Phelan advised that there are 18 individuals and groups currently on the APOT list and 17 of them are located offshore.14 There are two results in relation to the APOT list worth highlighting: (1) the addition of 12 new targets to the APOT list which is four more than the previous reporting period and (2) the identification of 54 previously known targets involved in new areas of criminality.15 The agency identified new threats including a sophisticated fraud scheme, phoenix-type activity, daigou business (surrogate shopping) and an innovative illicit drug and drug precursor manufacturing process.16 The ACIC reported that eighty-one per cent of stakeholders agree the 'ACIC provides information and intelligence on changes in the crime environment' and considered this to be a strong result.17

The ACIC partially met two of its nine performance criteria in the 2018–19 year. The agency determined that it had not fully met these two criteria for the reasons outlined below.

Understand 1 - comprehensive, relevant and integrated picture of crime

In 2018–19, the ACIC produced products in accordance with the priority crime themes identified by its Board and its strategic decision to 'prioritise development of high-value and high-quality products'.18 The ACIC stated that respondents to the stakeholder survey acknowledged the quality of its products.19 However, the ACIC also reported that the number of analytical intelligence products finalised was below the ACIC's four year trend.20 Further, in response to the stakeholder survey statement, 'ACIC intelligence products provide a comprehensive and relevant understanding of crime impacting Australia', there was a six percentage point decline in agreement from 75 per cent in 2017–18 to 69 per cent in 2018–19. The explanation given was that 'many stakeholders feel that there are more crime types for which the ACIC could provide intelligence products'.21 The annual report makes no mention of how the ACIC is responding to this issue.

Connect 2 - delivering and implementation of new and enhanced ACIC systems and services

In 2018–19, the ACIC delivered and progressed a range of systems and services.22 At the public hearing on 8 May 2020, Mr Phelan discussed the future benefits of having one system—the National Criminal Intelligence System—that incorporates multiple systems.23 To determine if these systems and services meet the needs of stakeholders, survey respondents were asked to what extent they agree with the statement that 'New and enhanced ACIC national policing and intelligence systems are being developed and improved to meet their organisation's needs'.24 The ACIC used this one measure to determine if it had satisfied this criterion. For the last three reporting periods the ACIC has assessed itself as not meeting this criterion due to yearly declines in the percentage agreeing with the above statement, falling from 65 per cent in 2016–17 to 61 per cent in 2017–18, and to 57 per cent in 2018–19.25

Committee comment

The committee acknowledges the ACIC's results achieved in 2018–19 and appreciates the difficulty of measuring performance when the results of the ACIC's work are often not directly reported on, made available to the agency by partners, or seen until after the report for the reporting period has been presented.
The committee is pleased that the ACIC has identified areas for improvement and may follow up on these in its examination of the 2019–20 annual report.
With regards to the two partially met criteria, the committee observes that the ACIC is constrained operationally by its resources and in measuring the results of its work through stakeholder surveys. For Understand 1, the ACIC has the trade-off of quality or a broader range of products, and for Connect 2, the competing priorities of stakeholders for services and systems. When stakeholders complete the survey, they do so on the basis of their individual interests. The committee acknowledges the difficulty in satisfying the needs of all stakeholders and the reliance on the results of the stakeholder survey to measure performance.
As noted above, a number of changes were made to the ACIC's performance criteria in the reporting period, but no explanation was provided for the changes in the ACIC's annual report. Further, the committee would like to draw attention to the removal of performance criterion Connect 4—relationships with domestic and international partners—in 2018–19, noting that the criterion was not met in the previous reporting period. The committee suggests such changes in the future, be explained in the annual report.

  • 1
    Commonwealth of Australia, Home Affairs Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19: Budget Related Paper No. 1.10, p. 86.
  • 2
    Portfolio Budget Statements 2018–19, p. 86.
  • 3
    Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Annual Report 2018–19, p. 41.
  • 4
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 41.
  • 5
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 9.
  • 6
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. ii, 16 and 13–63. For more information on the stakeholder survey see Annual Report 2018–19, p. 73.
  • 7
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 18.
  • 8
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 18.
  • 9
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 17.
  • 10
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 18
  • 11
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 74.
  • 12
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 17.
  • 13
    ACIC, Annual Report 2017–18, p. 56; ACIC, Annual Report 2016–17, p. 61.
  • 14
    Mr Michael Phelan, Chief Executive Officer, ACIC, Committee Hansard, 8 May 2020, p. 9.
  • 15
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 19–20.
  • 16
    Annual Report 2018–19, pp. 19–20.
  • 17
    Annual Report 2018–19, pp. 19 and 22.
  • 18
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 24.
  • 19
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 24.
  • 20
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 25.
  • 21
    Annual Report 2018–19, p. 24 and p. 28.
  • 22
    Annual Report 2018–19, pp. 51–52.
  • 23
    Mr Michael Phelan, Committee Hansard, 8 May 2020, pp. 9–10.
  • 24
    Annual Report 201819, p. 51.
  • 25
    Annual Report 2018–19, pp. 51 and 53.

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