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Annual Report 2007-08 Output 2.6

Provide a fast, fair and reliable background checking service

Summary

In 2005, the Australian Government agreed to establish a new division within the Attorney-General’s Department to coordinate background checking on people who worked in secure areas of air and sea ports. AusCheck commenced providing services in September 2007.

AusCheck’s mission is to be Australia’s pre-eminent background checking service by:

  • offering connectivity and single point access to minimise background checking duplication
  • maintaining an accurate database of applicants and cardholders, with appropriate data integrity features
  • providing fast, fair and reliable background checking services, and
  • keeping costs to users to a minimum.

The AusCheck Act 2007 provides the legislative and regulatory framework to underpin this mission.

The Act also provides for the charging of fees to fully recover the costs of AusCheck’s regulatory activities. The fee charged by AusCheck is equal to the cost of providing the service.

Major achievements

In less than 12 months of operation, AusCheck received more than 100,000 requests for background checking. AusCheck processed 97.9 per cent of all applications in less than 20 days and finalised 66 per cent of all applications received in less than five days. These results represent a considerable improvement in efficiency over the previous background checking scheme.

The checking process involves examining the criminal history and matters relevant to a security assessment of an individual through the checking partners. The efficiency and consistency of background checks has significantly improved due to AusCheck’s role as a central agency dedicated to these assessments. The development of a state-of-the-art IT system facilitates automatic transfer of data between AusCheck and its checking partners.

Evaluations and reviews

AusCheck conducted its first annual client satisfaction survey in April 2008. ORIMA Research conducted the independent survey. The survey reported that AusCheck’s approach to IT-based processing had been well received by industry.

Clients were asked whether, considering all aspects of service, they agreed that the services provided by AusCheck were of a high quality. The proportion of respondents who strongly agreed that our services were of high quality was 16 per cent; those who agreed, 73.6 per cent; those who neither agreed nor disagreed, just less than 10 per cent; and those who disagreed, just less than one per cent (Figure 4).

Figure 4: AusCheck client satisfaction survey results April 2008

Figure 4: AusCheck client satisfaction survey results April 2008 

Access to AusCheck data

Since AusCheck commenced operations, there have been 18 requests for information from the AusCheck database for national security and law enforcement purposes. Requesting agencies were the AFP (15 requests), the Australian Crime Commission (two requests) and the Australian Customs Service (one request).

Outlook

AusCheck will focus on establishing cooperative and collaborative relationships with industry, as well as links with other Australian Government agencies, particularly its checking partner agencies. In relation to checking partners, AusCheck will examine business processes to enable continuous improvement, for example, by enhancing current system functionality and processing speed and providing greater value-add analysis.

AusCheck will face service delivery pressure in terms of likely processing peaks in February and March 2009 for ASIC renewals.

The AusCheck Act permits AusCheck to coordinate background checks of applicants for aviation and maritime security identification cards. The provision of services beyond these areas in future would require amendments to the Act.

Performance indicators

Output 2.6

Provide a fast, fair and reliable background checking service
Activity Performance indicator Result
Policy advice provided to ministers

 

Quantity

 

 

 

 

 

2007–08

 

Submissions to ministers

 

 

 

7

 

Cabinet submissions

 

 

 

 

Ministerial correspondence*

 

 

 

7

 

Responses to questions on notice

 

 

 

 

Briefs

 

 

 

23

 

Speeches

 

 

 

 

Provide timely and effective background checks for Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC) and Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) Issuing bodies

 

Quantity

 

 

 

2007–08

 

Proportion (95%) of accepted ASIC and MSIC applications completed in 5 business days for Australian citizens with no actual or potential criminal history

 

AusCheck completed 88% of applications where the applicant had no actual or potential criminal history in less than 5 days. This equals 92.6% completion of our promised service level agreement.

 

Provide a consistent decision making process that ensures privacy and legal rights are protected

 

Quantity

 

 

 

2007–08

 

Proportion (100%) of AusCheck decisions not overturned on appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

 

100%

 

System access and availability are within agreed levels

 

Quantity

 

 

 

2007–08

 

99% availability time

 

Less than 1% outage time since commencement of operations.

 

* The number of ministerials relates to the number of actions in relation to ministerial correspondence.

† Briefs include papers on current issues, possible parliamentary questions (new and updated) and meeting briefs.


Our people

AusCheck marks first year with 100,000th check

Sean Kelly, AusCheck.

Sean Kelly, AusCheck.

AusCheck, the Australian Background Checking Service, has successfully processed more than 100,000 background checks since commencing operations within the Department in September 2007.

AusCheck coordinates background checks on people who require access to secure areas of Australian air and sea ports.

Sean Kelly, Director of Operations, came to the Department in 2007 after working in Customs for a year.

Using a state-of-the-art IT system to process applications, Sean’s team manages the information flow between the aviation and maritime industries and AusCheck’s checking partners: CrimTrac, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

‘What I like about my job is the progressive approach we are bringing to national security. Processes that had previously taken months can now be completed the same day using the sophisticated IT solutions that were developed within the Department,’ Sean explained.

The efficiency and consistency of background checks has significantly improved due to AusCheck’s key role as a central agency dedicated to those assessments. This assists the aviation and maritime industries to identify high-risk individuals who, under the requirements, would be ineligible to access secure areas.

AusCheck provides a uniform Australia-wide approach to the application of the statutory requirements, as well as efficient and fair processes. These processes have greatly reduced an application’s turnaround time with the bulk of applications being processed within five days.

‘The hard work completed by our team during the implementation process has really paid off, as we have consistently met the service levels promised to industry,’ Sean said.