The Department of Immigration and Border Protection's (DIBP) management of Australia's electronic watch list suffers from a lack of strategic direction and its contribution to border security remains difficult to gauge, according to an audit.
Auditor-General, Ian McPhee said DIBP also needed to consider how it would manage the Central Movement Alert List (CMAL) in the years ahead for its own immigration purposes.
"In particular, technological advances in biometrics now make identification of individuals less dependent on biodata and intelligence gathering," he said.
The list is an integral part of border security, containing details of individuals who pose either immigration or national security concern. It also contains information on lost, stolen or fraudulent travel documents.
Managed by the Immigration Department, it contains more than two million records and generates more than 300,000 match cases a month.
The audit assessed the strategic management of the list, the effectiveness of the Department's management of the system, its implementation of the recommendations of a 2008 audit, and management of stakeholder relations.
Mr McPhee said DIBP's strategic management arrangements for CMAL still required development.
"There has been no strategic planning undertaken to guide the future direction of CMAL nor is there a clearly stated strategic objective for CMAL," he said.
The ownership of watch list data and responsibility for its quality and integrity were also unresolved issues.
"Further, until DIBP develops cost effective arrangements to measure CMAL's outcomes and its impact on visa and citizenship decisions, the Department will not be in a position to report on the system's outcomes and its contribution to Australia's border security arrangements," Mr McPhee said.
He also highlighted slow implementation of recommendations made in the 2008 audit report.
Of the five recommendations made, only two have been implemented.
The audit made several recommendations aimed at strengthening the Department's management of the watch list.
It recommended that the department develop a strategic plan to guide and manage the future direction of the list, that it increase responsibility for the data, regularly review the watch list, and that it investigate cost-effective options for periodically identifying and reporting on instances where watch list data has been influential in visa and citizenship decisions.
The report can be found at this PS News link.
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