Role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman

Page Heading: Public Interest Disclsoures

Role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) have an oversight and educative role under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act).

The PID Act identifies a number of roles for the Commonwealth Ombudsman including:

  • setting standards relating to:
    • procedures for agencies to follow when dealing with internal disclosures
    • conducting investigations under the PID Act
    • preparing reports of investigations under the PID Act
    • agencies providing information and assistance for the purpose of the PID Act
    • keeping records
  • providing assistance to principal officers, authorised officers, public officials, former public officials and IGIS
  • conducting awareness and education programmes for agencies and public officials
  • receiving disclosures about other agencies
  • receiving notifications of allocations and decisions not to investigate, or not investigate further
  • determining requests for extensions of time for the investigation of disclosures
  • on rare occasions investigating a PID about another agency
  • reporting annually to the Minister on the operation of the scheme, who tables the report in the parliament.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman can investigate complaints about the way that an agency handled a PID. The Ombudsman can also conduct own-motion investigations under the Ombudsman Act 1976.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is also required to handle disclosures made about its own public officials.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has a specialist Public Interest Disclosure team to support this allocation, coordination, monitoring and assistance role. Click here to contact the team

Role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence & Security

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) performs a similar role to the Commonwealth Ombudsman in respect of the six intelligence agencies that are prescribed under the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1986. These roles include:

  • providing assistance to principal officers, authorised officers, public officials, former public officials and the Commonwealth Ombudsman
  • conducting awareness and education programmes for intelligence agencies and their public officials
  • receiving, allocating and investigating disclosures about intelligence agencies
  • receiving notifications of allocations and decisions not to investigate, or not investigate further in relation to the intelligence agencies
  • determining extensions of time for the investigation of disclosures by the intelligence agencies.

For more information on the role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the IGIS in relation to the PID scheme can be found in our fact sheet. To seek more information or assistance about the IGIS, or to make a PID to the IGIS, you should visit their website.