Legislation governing ONA
ONA was established by the Office of National Assessments Act 1977 as an independent body directly accountable to the Prime Minister. The Director-General of ONA is an independent statutory officer who is not subject to external direction on the content of ONA assessments. The IGIS regularly inspects ONA's activities to ensure this independence is preserved. ONA is also governed by the Intelligence Services Act 2001 and the PGPA Act 2014.
ONA is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Access to ONA records is gained under the Archives Act 1983. ONA records are eligible for public release once they enter the open access period, subject to the exemption of any material of continuing sensitivity as prescribed by section 33 of the Archives Act. Requests to access ONA records can be made at the National Archives of Australia (NAA) and they can be located through the NAA website.
Privacy of Australian citizens
The preservation of the privacy of Australians is an important part of the oversight regime. ONA is subject to the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 as they relate to the protection of personal information which is collected and disseminated by ONA. Privacy guidelines developed in consultation with the Attorney-General and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, limit and control the communication or retention by ONA of intelligence information about Australian persons or entities.
The IGIS regularly inspects ONA's compliance with privacy guidelines.