Delays & disappointment from the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA)

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Delays & disappointment from the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA)

The Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) wait times and substantial delays have fostered widespread frustration amongst the Australian Defence Force.

“The vetting system has for years been plagued by delays under a backlog of cases. The average wait time for the highest clearance level, known as “positive vetting”, was last year sitting at more than 12 months.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 2019) link here.

According to an ABC report in the 2016-2017 financial year the “Australian Government Security Vetting Agency took an average of 535 days — almost 18 months — to grant top-level security clearances” (ABC News, 2017) link here.

The AGSVA vetting process involves the assessment of an individual’s suitability to hold a security clearance at a particular level and is essential to the maintenance of Australia’s national security.

The process involves an enquiry into and substantiation of an individual’s background, character and values before a decision is made by AGSVA regarding clearance.

However, “the details – which are identified during the security vetting process – could include sexual history, finances, drug use, overseas travel and acquaintances. They will be passed on to ministerial offices and government departments where applicable” (Sydney Morning Herald, 2019) link here.

Evidently, the process can substantially “affect an individual’s employment and the business operations of entities if not managed effectively or in a timely manner” (Australian National Audit Office ANAO, 2015) link here.

The 1st October 2010 marks the date that the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) was established within the Department of Defence, to centrally administer personnel security vetting on behalf of Australian Government entities.

The newly implemented centralised vetting was anticipated “to result in: a single security clearance for each employee or contractor, recognised across government entities; a more efficient and cost-effective security vetting service; and cost savings of $5.3 million per year” (ANAO, 2015). link here.

As of the 30th of March 2015, AGSVA employed 272 Australian Public Service staff, including some 130 Assessing Officers (AOs), they also manage “a contracted workforce of over 300 personnel, who provide administrative support, conduct vetting and psychological assessments. AGSVA’s Industry Vetting Panel comprises of 21 companies and approximately 200 AOs who complete around half of the AGSVA’s vetting assessments” (ANAO, 2015).

These delays were undoubtedly the result of AGSVA’s budgetary cuts, having “quietly slashed the number of private contractors it uses for vetting government officials from 22 to six” more information in the link here

Many have raised privacy and security concerns related to the use of third-party vetting agencies and private contractors.

Labor Member of Parliament, Julian Hill:

  • “There is no clarity about who this incredibly sensitive information will be shared with,” he said. Mr Hill also said it was still not good enough that the vast majority of sensitive security checks would be done by “mysterious private companies rather than Defence officials, which would be much safer”. (Sydney Morning Herald, 2019) link here.

Evidently, the excruciatingly long waits and protracted uncertainty during the security clearance process, take an emotional and financial toll on individuals, which was exacerbated by the intrusive and exhausting nature of the so called “positive vetting” process.

adf tile

Delays & disappointment from the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA)

The Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) wait times and substantial delays have fostered widespread frustration amongst the Australian Defence Force.

“The vetting system has for years been plagued by delays under a backlog of cases. The average wait time for the highest clearance level, known as “positive vetting”, was last year sitting at more than 12 months.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 2019) link here.

According to an ABC report in the 2016-2017 financial year the “Australian Government Security Vetting Agency took an average of 535 days — almost 18 months — to grant top-level security clearances” (ABC News, 2017) link here.

The AGSVA vetting process involves the assessment of an individual’s suitability to hold a security clearance at a particular level and is essential to the maintenance of Australia’s national security.

The process involves an enquiry into and substantiation of an individual’s background, character and values before a decision is made by AGSVA regarding clearance.

However, “the details – which are identified during the security vetting process – could include sexual history, finances, drug use, overseas travel and acquaintances. They will be passed on to ministerial offices and government departments where applicable” (Sydney Morning Herald, 2019) link here.

Evidently, the process can substantially “affect an individual’s employment and the business operations of entities if not managed effectively or in a timely manner” (Australian National Audit Office ANAO, 2015) link here.

The 1st October 2010 marks the date that the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) was established within the Department of Defence, to centrally administer personnel security vetting on behalf of Australian Government entities.

The newly implemented centralised vetting was anticipated “to result in: a single security clearance for each employee or contractor, recognised across government entities; a more efficient and cost-effective security vetting service; and cost savings of $5.3 million per year” (ANAO, 2015). link here.

As of the 30th of March 2015, AGSVA employed 272 Australian Public Service staff, including some 130 Assessing Officers (AOs), they also manage “a contracted workforce of over 300 personnel, who provide administrative support, conduct vetting and psychological assessments. AGSVA’s Industry Vetting Panel comprises of 21 companies and approximately 200 AOs who complete around half of the AGSVA’s vetting assessments” (ANAO, 2015).

These delays were undoubtedly the result of AGSVA’s budgetary cuts, having “quietly slashed the number of private contractors it uses for vetting government officials from 22 to six” more information in the link here

Many have raised privacy and security concerns related to the use of third-party vetting agencies and private contractors.

Labor Member of Parliament, Julian Hill:

  • “There is no clarity about who this incredibly sensitive information will be shared with,” he said. Mr Hill also said it was still not good enough that the vast majority of sensitive security checks would be done by “mysterious private companies rather than Defence officials, which would be much safer”. (Sydney Morning Herald, 2019) link here.

Evidently, the excruciatingly long waits and protracted uncertainty during the security clearance process, take an emotional and financial toll on individuals, which was exacerbated by the intrusive and exhausting nature of the so called “positive vetting” process.