The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has commenced operations as a statutory agency within the defence portfolio of the country.
ASD is the foreign intelligence collection agency of the Australian Government, which focuses on intelligence, cyber security and offensive operations in support of the government and the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The agency’s primary focus will be on foreign signals intelligence, countering cyber-espionage and defending against cyber threats.
The directorate has been changed into a statutory agency in order to strengthen its ability to enhance the country’s safety and security.
Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said: “The establishment of ASD as a statutory agency within the defence portfolio achieves a key recommendation of the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review.
“ASD has delivered strategic advantage to the Australian Defence Force and Government for over 70 years.”
The responsibility of the ASD has currently been expanded to lead cybersecurity support and services provided to the industry, government and the community. To this end, the Australian Cyber Security Centre now operates as part of the ASD.
Payne added: “ASD’s uniquely skilled workforce has always been its greatest asset. As recognised in the Review, recruiting and retaining staff has become increasingly difficult due to increased competition for talent across the private sector.
“As a statutory agency within the defence portfolio, ASD will have more flexibility to attract, train, retain and develop its specialist workforce.”
The agency will be headed by Mike Burgess, the directorate’s first director general.