The department undertook a range of reforms over the year by implementing recommendations arising from the 2015 Review of Diplomatic Security, all designed to advance our corporate security objectives in a global environment where security challenges are increasing. This included the need for stronger institutionalised governance, a greater focus on threat trends and risk assessment, building better working relationships across the department and other agencies and embedding security awareness more deeply throughout the organisation. We constituted a Departmental Security Committee, chaired at deputy secretary-level, to provide a structured governance framework for managing security. We restructured the security branches to better align policy and operational functions, headed by a chief security officer—a new position created as a result of the review. We also improved our training program by streamlining and better targeting courses to meet evolving training needs. Together with the Overseas Property Office we developed new physical security standards.
Against the backdrop of an increasingly challenging security environment, the department increased its collaboration with like-minded countries, including through the new Diplomatic Security Colloquium and enhanced bilateral sharing and cooperation.
We delivered high quality ICT services to 170 locations in Australia and overseas. Through the ICN, we progressively improved the accessibility of our systems from mobile and remote locations to support our increasing diplomatic footprint. We enhanced the resilience of our network to accommodate a 24/7 global presence.
We supported the departmental economic diplomacy agenda with the development of the award-winning FTA Portal which connects Australian businesses with export information.
We focused on service delivery to the public while progressively updating and replacing ageing infrastructure. We redeveloped ministerial and departmental websites and enhanced our suite of mobile and web-based consular applications.
In the year ahead, we will innovate in the area of security vetting, moving to a paperless, electronic security clearance processing system. This will accelerate significantly the clearance and revalidation process. We will develop in-house positive vetting processing and undertake new outreach activities to raise security awareness.
We will also continue work to replace the department’s SATIN network with the ICN. The transition to a new global telecommunication contract will provide better performance and greater reliability to domestic and international locations.
We will maintain our ongoing work to keep government communications secure in the face of complex and emerging cyber threats, through effective controls and strong governance. Our efforts will be consistent with relevant whole-of-government policy and best practice, including guidance from the Australian Signals Directorate.