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OUTPUT 1.2: Secure government communications and security of overseas missions

Output 1.2 Quality and quantity information

Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Client satisfaction—secure communications network and telecommunications infrastructure

A majority of departmental staff now have access to the SATIN system. Apart from some early teething problems staff have welcomed the increased functionality and efficiency it delivers. More Australian Government agencies are seeking access to the system. The ADCNET legacy system continues to operate to a satisfactory level in just under half of our overseas missions.

We sought client views and feedback on both the ADCNET and SATIN systems through a variety of mechanisms.

External feedback

Internal feedback

Availability and reliability of communications

The department continued to look at ways of streamlining and improving efficiency in the provision of electronic communication services to clients in 15 Australian Government agencies, seven ministerial and parliamentary offices and in overseas missions.

The increased use of email by clients has allowed the gradual phasing out of telememos (in 2001–02) and of central handling of faxes. Staff can now fax directly to or from individual branches, including directly to or from desktop computers.

The provision of the mobile secure communications system (the FlyAway unit) ensured ministers and government officials had access to secure communications to Canberra from remote or temporary office locations. FlyAway units were provided to staff in Manila when the Australian chancery was relocated and to the Australian Representative Office in Baghdad.

A large-scale program has begun to provide Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) backup capacity to 40 posts to ensure communication links remain in place regardless of the circumstances of supplier companies. The Voicenet speed dial service has been expanded to over 27 posts, with nine more to be connected in the coming months, achieving significant savings on international communications costs. The department plans eventually to provide this service to all posts as local technology permits.

We are investigating the usefulness of new technologies, including open source operating systems and applications, improved secure voice systems and improved encryption key delivery and management. An IT accounting application has been implemented across the department, measuring in the first instance Internet and Voicenet usage. This will help in the development of equitable charging mechanisms.

We have implemented the SATIN Global Management System (SGMS), a comprehensive network management system covering most installed components of the department's IT network. This is a proactive management system that aims to provide improved visibility and control of all elements of our IT network—covering router management, network discovery, application response times and servers. The enhanced ability to examine and evaluate the department's IT infrastructure will ensure that it remains focused on serving the system's business goals. Further development of the SGMS is continuing.

The department signed new contracts for the supply of international terrestrial and satellite telecommunications links in May 2002. These contracts have enabled us to expand significantly our bandwidth capacity (necessary for the successful operation of the SATIN system at posts) at a minimum additional cost. The efficiencies achieved through the contract for the provision of terrestrial services enabled the department to deliver improved satellite telecommunications links to 18 posts in regions where terrestrial links are problematic. Under the improved arrangements, all posts will have access to a minimum of 128 kilobytes of bandwidth per site.

The increase of bandwidth to posts has provided staff overseas with access to desktop Internet through the SATIN system.

Client satisfaction—security of overseas missions

The difficult security environment in 2002–03 placed significant strains on posts. Posts expressed a high level of satisfaction with our responsiveness to their security needs—through rapid advice on evolving security situations, special security assessments and inspection advisory visits at short notice, and through a significant increase in the level of physical security afforded by the new funding made available to the department and its rapid disbursement to posts. We made a particular effort to keep partner agencies informed of key developing security situations and our management of these events. Agencies expressed confidence in the measures in place and the approach taken.

We placed emphasis on providing appropriate training for staff before their departure on posting and our efforts to improve the relevance and structure of this training were well received. Staff noted in particular the value of the training provided in IT systems vulnerabilities.

Quantity information for output 1.2
Indicators 2002–03 2001–02
Number of posts and Commonwealth entities with access to the secure communications network and secure telecommunications infrastructure 108 104
Number of clients1 113
Types of services:
Cables analysed2 146 498 136 849
Cable pages printed3 1 225 660 1 539 270
Fax pages4 0 19 600
Telememos forwarded5 0 142
Number of overseas missions for which security services are provided, including security review services6 88 87
Number of security clearances and reviews processed 776 896
  1. This figure reflects the number of agencies and other external work units including seven ministerial and parliamentary offices which receive paper or electronic copies of cables.
  2. The increase in cable analysis reflects the increase in reporting cables and the increase in the number of sensitive cables requiring manual analysis.
  3. The drop in printed pages reflects the department's policy of encouraging staff to read cables on screen rather than having them printed centrally. The demand for printed cables from other agencies also diminished as more joined the SATIN network and had access to cables electronically rather than in printed form.
  4. Faxes are no longer handled centrally, but are instead sent direct to divisions.
  5. Telememos were phased out during 2001–02.
  6. This figure includes our overseas posts and other permanent overseas locations–see Appendix 13: Summary of the overseas network. It also includes an Australian Administrative Centre in Nauru set up to facilitate the processing of applications from asylum seekers.


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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2002–2003
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