The objective of the audit was to examine whether the UP and CPP services provided by the Australian Federal Police Protection Service are being managed effectively. In particular, the audit examined:

  • whether the Protection function has been effectively integrated into the AFP, and sound arrangements are in place to strategically plan Protection services and manage risks;
  • whether Protection staff have access to appropriate training and guidance; and
  • the management arrangements for UP and CPP services.



1. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is the primary law enforcement agency through which the Australian Government enforces Commonwealth law. Established by the Australian Federal Police Act 1979, its functions include the provision of policing services in relation to Commonwealth laws and property, and the safeguarding of Commonwealth interests. The AFP also provides community policing services to the Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory.

2. In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 in the United States of America, the Government reviewed Australia’s counter-terrorism arrangements across the whole of government and decided, among other things, to integrate the Australian Protective Service (APS) into the AFP to facilitate close coordination between these two key counter-terrorist agencies. Organisational integration was completed in July 2004 and the APS was retitled the AFP Protection Service (Protection). This brought together the AFP’s existing personal protection functions with the APS’s guarding functions. It also involved the integration of corporate systems and processes, including training arrangements and workforce management.

3. Protection’s objective is to ensure that individuals and interests identified to be at risk by the Commonwealth are kept safe from acts of terrorism, violent protest and issues-motivated violence. Its workforce of some 700 staff as at January 2011 is divided between three main operational groups:

  • Uniform Protection (UP), which provides highly visible static and mobile guarding services to foreign diplomatic missions, official establishments (such as The Lodge and Government House), six sensitive Defence Force establishments (including Russell Offices in Canberra and the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap) and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO);
  • Close Personal Protection (CPP), which provides personal protection to Australian high office holders (including the Prime Minister and the Governor-General), internationally protected persons (such as the American and Israeli Ambassadors), and visiting dignitaries (for example, foreign heads of state); and
  • Witness Protection, which provides protection and assistance to witnesses identified as being at risk because of assistance they have given to police and other law enforcement agencies.

4. Protection staff operate from eight locations across Australia, as shown in Figure S.1. Across these locations, there are 15 UP ‘stations’, which are managed by Station Managers. CPP staff are based in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Figure S.1: Location of UP Stations and CPP staff in Australia

Source: ANAO.

5. In 2010–11, the AFP received funding of $103 million for UP and CPP services, comprising a mix of appropriated funding (47 per cent) and cost-recovered funding (53 per cent).

6. UP staff are known as Protective Service Officers (PSOs); they are not police officers. Police officers are sworn to an oath under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 and have broad powers to arrest and detain persons for a range of offences. While PSOs are also sworn officers, they have a more specialised role and more limited powers to arrest and search persons for certain offences relating to Commonwealth property. CPP (bodyguard) services are largely performed by sworn police officers.

Federal Audit of Police Capabilities

7. In 2009, the Federal Audit of Police Capabilities (the ‘Beale Review’)[1] examined the AFP’s capacity to meet contemporary and future demands and government priorities. The review briefly assessed the Protection function and found that the services provided by UP and CPP were generally effective.

8. The Government’s December 2009 decision to implement the Beale Review recommendations relating to airport security will see the AFP Aviation function becoming staffed by sworn police. The transition, known as Project Macer, will take place over three to five years and may result in significant numbers of current Aviation staff (also PSOs) transferring to Protection Services, because they are unable or unwilling to make the transition to sworn police.[2] In addition, Protection PSOs are also being given the opportunity to make the transition to sworn police.[3] The net impact of PSO movements on the Protection function will not be known for some time.

Audit objective and scope

9. The objective of the audit was to examine whether the UP and CPP services provided by the Australian Federal Police Protection Service are being managed effectively. In particular, the audit examined:

  • whether the Protection function has been effectively integrated into the AFP, and sound arrangements are in place to strategically plan Protection services and manage risks;
  • whether Protection staff have access to appropriate training and guidance; and
  • the management arrangements for UP and CPP services.

10. The audit scope excluded PSOs employed within the Aviation function, Protection staff deployed overseas, and those engaged in Witness Protection.

Overall conclusion

11. The management of the AFP’s Protection Service is a multifaceted undertaking involving the deployment of some 700 staff, and the delivery of a range of security services, at a diverse range of sites across Australia.

12. After the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, the APS was reintegrated into the AFP to facilitate closer coordination between the two counter-terrorist agencies. Since that time, Protection has evolved from a commercially-focused service provider that was in competition with the private sector for Commonwealth guarding contracts to one providing services that are not readily available from the private sector. This evolution, together with the fact that some of Protection’s clients are not permitted to choose alternative suppliers, was instrumental in a 2009 decision to exempt Protection from the continuing application of the Commonwealth’s competitive neutrality policy.

13. The ANAO concluded that the UP and CPP services provided by the AFP Protection Service are being managed effectively. The functional integration of the APS into the AFP has largely been completed, with key elements such as recruitment, training and human resource management delivered and monitored through common AFP-wide systems. Protection has in place an administrative framework that enables it to effectively manage, monitor and deliver its services across the diverse sites at which it operates. In particular, Protection has established sound planning and risk management arrangements, which underpin its service delivery. It has also put in place effective arrangements to monitor and manage its UP and CPP workforces on a day-to-day basis, strengthened its training arrangements for new and existing PSOs and CPP officers, and developed adequate guidance for staff.

14. Protection’s focus over the last nine years has shifted away from being a protective security provider directly competing with the private sector, but it retains a strong client focus. Protection management and station management are generally responsive and professional in delivering services to client organisations.

15. While management oversight and service delivery are generally sound, there are a number of weaknesses in some of Protection’s supporting administrative arrangements that have the potential to impede effective management decision-making and the allocation of resources. In particular, there would be benefits to both Protection and its clients in increasing the transparency of Protection’s cost-recovery arrangements, strengthening its reporting arrangements to clients, and improving the performance information for both the Protection function as a whole, and for individual UP clients. Management has been active in dealing with integration issues such as differences in employment conditions and career and training opportunities that have emerged. However, staff surveys have found that Protection staff have lower job satisfaction and feel a sense of disengagement from the rest of the organisation, which indicates that there is still work to be done to achieve greater functional and workforce integration into the AFP.

16. During the audit, Protection management acknowledged these weaknesses in its supporting administrative arrangements and advised that it had commenced work to address them. In this light, the ANAO has not made any formal recommendations.

Key findings

Strategic planning and integration

17. Protection has developed a Business Plan that reflects sound planning practice—it is documented, time-specific, identifies the broader context, and identifies a range of goals and strategies to achieve them. In addition, it links those strategies to performance indicators and related targets. Protection’s achievements against the indicators and targets are reported internally twice a year, providing a sound means for both the AFP and Protection management to monitor progress.

18. Protection reported against two key performance indicators (KPIs) in the AFP’s Annual Report 2009–10, which addressed the level of client/stakeholder satisfaction for UP and for CPP. While these indicators fell short of their target of 90 per cent of clients either satisfied or very satisfied in 2009–10 (75 per cent for UP and 81 per cent for CPP), Protection’s small client base and low survey response rate means that the results should be treated with caution. Protection is aware of these limitations and is trialling additional KPIs, which address the number of avoidable incidents per 1000 CPP movements; the percentage of time dedicated to preventative activities; and the percentage of time dedicated to high-visibility UP patrolling and CPP activities. These additional KPIs have the potential to strengthen Protection’s performance reporting to the public.

19. Protection maintains formal risk registers for the function as a whole and for individual UP stations. The registers reflect sound risk management practice, involving the systematic identification, documentation, assessment and rating of risks. For those risks where further treatment is necessary, additional treatments are identified, together with the residual risk level, implementation timetable, performance measures and processes for monitoring/review.

20. The ANAO observed that the controls identified in respect of one key security risk were rated as inadequate by two of the stations. This risk involved a potential threat to both personnel and facilities. In response to the audit observations, Protection management advised that it had commenced a review of the risk. The review is due to be completed by 1 July 2011.

21. The functional integration of the former APS was completed in 2004. Key elements such as planning, risk management, training, professional services and human resource management are now being delivered, monitored and managed through common AFP-wide systems and approaches. However, the process of integrating APS staff into the AFP culture is ongoing. Post-integration staff surveys indicate that Protection staff tend to be more negative in their cultural perceptions of the AFP than other areas.

22. While full cultural integration will take some time to complete, integration to date has been of benefit to PSOs, providing them with access to better equipment, wages, management, training and opportunities for development. Overall, integration has largely been effective, with AFP management active in dealing with issues—such as differences in employment conditions, and career and training opportunities—that have emerged. Some Protection staff believe that many police officers do not have a good appreciation of their role and capabilities; in short, they feel undervalued. Protection management is aware of the need to better communicate the role and capabilities of Protection to the broader AFP. It is also seeking to identify further career opportunities for PSOs, both within Protection and more broadly within the AFP.

Managing the Protection workforce

23. The AFP recently developed an interim, agency-wide workforce plan and has foreshadowed the development of resource plans for each functional area, including Protection, and for its broader National Security program, which includes Protection. These plans should assist Protection’s strategic workforce planning and decision-making processes. At the operational level, Protection has put in place, or has access to, a number of key tools that enable it to adequately monitor and manage its workforce on a day-to-day basis. These include reporting arrangements to forecast expected staffing levels, identify associated trends and risks and monitor actual staffing levels.

24. Although some UP stations are over-staffed, the overall staffing level across all UP stations is 4.8 per cent under the authorised full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers, with the four remote stations being 20.9 per cent below their authorised numbers. These shortages are currently being managed by temporarily redeploying staff from other stations or by maintaining minimal staffing levels in consultation with the client organisation. Protection is seeking to address staff shortages by running additional recruit courses in 2011 and by recruiting staff locally. However, this planning is being complicated by changes underway in other parts of the AFP. These changes follow the Government’s December 2009 decision to implement the recommendations of the Federal Audit of Police Capabilities[4] and may see significant numbers of staff transfer to Protection as PSOs (offset by some Protection PSOs transitioning to sworn policing roles).

25. Both UP and CPP currently have a limited surge capacity in the event of increased demand for their services. The staffing changes mentioned above may help alleviate this issue for UP because it employs PSOs. CPP management has commenced planning for the next known surge that will arise from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in October 2011. Strategies include identifying staff who have previously undertaken CPP training with a view to requalifying them, and instituting a leave embargo for Protection and CPP qualified staff. Protection management recognises the need to develop a surge capacity strategy for the Protection portfolio as a whole, given the potential importance of this issue for both UP and CPP.

26. The AFP has undertaken a number of staff surveys over recent years. The surveys have shown that Protection staff have felt a lack of motivation and a sense of disengagement from the rest of the organisation, with the most recent survey indicating that Protection staff had the lowest level of job satisfaction across the AFP. The AFP has been seeking to address these issues through a number of wider initiatives, including through measures to facilitate functional and workforce integration, referred to earlier. Preliminary results from the 2010 survey suggest these initiatives are having positive effects.

27. Protection’s rate of unscheduled absences (days per employee per year) is 11.3, which is higher than the AFP overall at 10.3 and the Australian Public Service rate at 10.5. Protection monitors the absence rate and has recently taken action to identify causes and reduce the incidence. Similarly, the AFP has been actively monitoring and managing workers’ compensation claims for Protection staff since integration. This has been effective in reducing the number of claims for Protection by 56 per cent since 2006–07 and in reducing the AFP’s Comcare premium by 23 per cent in 2010–11.

28. The Professional Standards unit monitors conduct issues involving AFP staff that range from minor administration matters to serious allegations of corruption. Protection staff generally have a much lower number of professional conduct issues—less than half—recorded against them than other AFP staff. This may reflect, at least in part, the nature of Protection Services’ work and its different client profile.

29. Of those issues that are raised, Protection staff are more likely to have them ‘established’ (49 per cent, compared with 18 per cent for the rest of the AFP). Protection, with the assistance of the AFP’s Professional Standards unit, has developed strategies to monitor and manage conduct issues involving PSOs, including the development of PSO training in ethics and professional standards.

Uniform Protection training and guidance

30. Following the integration of the APS into the AFP, a training needs analysis was undertaken to review the training needs of PSOs. The analysis led to the introduction of an enhanced recruit course in 2008. The longer course (increased from eight to 13 weeks) included revised training in a number of areas, and the award of a nationally recognised certificate. Stations visited by the ANAO were generally satisfied with the quality of the graduating recruits deployed to their stations.

31. Following the introduction of the revised course, Protection sought to bring the knowledge and skills of existing PSOs into line with those of new recruits by providing refresher training through PSO Development Workshops. While these were generally well regarded, only 63 per cent of eligible Protection PSOs attended the workshops over the three years they were run. This attendance rate, in part, reflected rostering constraints at some stations, which prevented some staff from being released. Given the general usefulness of the course in updating PSO knowledge and skills, there would be merit in the AFP running further workshops for those who missed out, and exploring options to overcome the rostering constraints that prevented some staff from attending.

32. Station Managers and PSOs have ready access through the AFP intranet to a range of AFP guidelines. Protection itself has developed a useful aide memoire notebook for PSOs that assists them in performing their day-to-day duties.

33. At the station level, standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been developed, which set out staff roles and responsibilities, and operational procedures.. Each station visited by the ANAO had an adequate set of SOPs which was either up-to-date or in the process of being updated. However, update arrangements were generally ad hoc and at the discretion of the Station Manager, and there was no central oversight or review of SOP coverage. There would be merit in developing a better practice template and checklist to ensure that SOPs meet minimum requirements, and also of reminding stations periodically of the need to review and update them. Protection acknowledged the inconsistent approach to SOP development, implementation and review, and advised that it will commence a review of the adequacy of station guidance and procedures across a selection of stations in the first half of 2011.

Managing the delivery of Uniform Protection services

34. Protection management is focused on working cooperatively with other agencies that play a role in determining those who receive protection and the level of protection required. In addition, Protection displays a strong client focus in the delivery of its services at both the management level and the station level and has recently established a Client Charter of Service which, among other things, sets out its commitments to clients.

35. Protection has MOUs in place with its three main cost-recovered clients. The MOUs set out basic information on key provisions such as outcomes, deliverables, roles and responsibilities, resourcing, and reporting arrangements. However, there is scope to improve the MOUs to better inform effective and efficient management practices. Of particular benefit would be explicitly identifying the objectives of the services being provided to help focus the overall intention of the agreement, and expressing desired outcomes more clearly and precisely. There would also be merit in Protection taking these observations into account during the current MOU review and renewal process.

36. In addition, reports to clients on the outcomes and performance measures set out in the MOUs varied in quality and detail between stations and reports, with the standard monthly report format generally providing a limited range of information. Protection has recognised the need to improve its reporting and is working with clients to this end.

37. The protection of the Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) facility near Bungendore, New South Wales, is particularly complex because the facility occupant (Defence) and the facility owner (a private company) also play a role in providing security services. This complexity is resulting in the security arrangements taking time to bed down and some friction over a number of unresolved issues. In particular, there were differing views on the ground about the scope of Protection’s day-to-day roles and responsibilities, a lack of agreement and documentation relating to responsibilities for controlling security incidents, and a lack of a single, overarching security and emergency management plan. This situation creates a risk that should a major security incident occur, there will be confusion or disagreement about the appropriate response. These issues had been acknowledged by Protection, and by Defence and the facility owner at the local level, and were the subject of review and discussion at the time of the audit. Defence anticipates that whole-of-base security and emergency management plans will be signed by 30 June 2011. Given that HQJOC opened in March 2009, there would be merit in Protection management keeping the issues under active review to facilitate a timely resolution.

38. Protection recovers costs from the Department of Defence, the Department of Parliamentary Services, ANSTO and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade using a cost-recovery model. The model has been examined on a number of occasions in recent years by internal reviews, which have found that, while the cost allocation methodology used to recover direct costs is sound, there is no methodology to support the recovery of indirect costs (corporate overhead charge) of 22.6 per cent. The reviews also found the model to be complex and time-consuming to administer, which makes it difficult for Protection to explain to clients how costs have been determined.

39. These issues came to a head while Protection was negotiating the 2009–10 costs for servicing Parliament House. This led to the Government deciding in April 2010 that the costing model for this site should be reviewed by the Department of Finance and Deregulation and the AFP, in consultation with the Department of Parliamentary Services. This review was underway at the time of the audit. While it is not clear whether any revised model will be applied more broadly, the use of a consistent and transparent pricing model for all clients would facilitate equity across clients and help simplify the administrative arrangements.

Managing Close Personal Protection services

40. Through its CPP services, Protection seeks to maintain the personal safety of high office holders and the dignity of the offices they occupy.

41. To this end, the AFP has established an appropriate regime to equip its CPP staff with timely and appropriate skills and knowledge. Specialised CPP training at the AFP College is well established, considered to be better practice, and results in a nationally recognised tertiary qualification. CPP skills are maintained through annual recertification and biannual fitness testing.

42. CPP operations are facilitated by up-to-date and relevant guidelines, templates and checklists. These include well-established and well-understood standard packages of protection for persons being protected (known as ‘Principals’), but with sufficient discretion to tailor packages to particular threat levels and circumstances. Electronic and easy-to-complete Standard Tactical Plan templates are used to facilitate planning for non-routine operations. The ANAO reviewed all 14 completed operations that required a Standard Tactical Plan during a six-month period and found that a plan had been prepared for each one.

43. However, two other useful tools designed to help plan CPP operations—that is, a checklist to help plan international and domestic travel and a Decision Making Matrix to help guide the deployment of CPP resources—had not been prepared or uploaded into the relevant database as required. The AFP has now reminded CPP officers of the need to comply with these requirements.

44. The AFP has also developed a Post Visit Report (PVR) template that provides a sound and consistent approach to reviewing certain CPP operations and facilitates the identification and promulgation of lessons learned. The ANAO reviewed all operations requiring a PVR during a six-month period and found that a PVR had been prepared for each one. While there were delays in completing some PVRs, and isolated cases of incorrect approvals of PVRs, these were acceptable given the tempo of CPP operations and staff shortages. However, there would be merit in Protection management periodically reviewing a sample of PVRs to check their compliance with the guidelines.

45. At the time of the audit, the CPP staffing level was 13 per cent below the authorised level. Although CPP management has put in place measures to manage this on a day-to-day basis, there is likely to be a limit to which these can be effective in the longer term. At the time of the audit, Protection management was seeking to identify other longer-term solutions, including developing a surge capacity strategy.

46. One way of managing staff shortages is to increase the interoperability between UP and CPP staff. The effectiveness of this was most recently demonstrated during the 2010 Federal Election when PSOs were successfully used to provide certain CPP support functions. Protection management has identified further opportunities for interoperability and was considering or implementing these at the time of the audit.

47. Protection uses three performance measures to assess the success of its CPP activities. Over the last four years two of these measures—resources directed to high and very high impact cases and the number of avoidable incidents per 1000 movements—have met their respective targets. In 2009–10, the
third measure—client satisfaction—recorded client satisfaction of 81 per cent against a target of 90 per cent. However, the survey outcome has varied from year to year primarily because of the small client base and low response rate. At the time of the audit, Protection was seeking to develop a more comprehensive set of outcome-focused indicators for 2011–12.

Summary of agency response

48. The proposed report was provided to the AFP for comment. The AFP’s summary response to the audit is as follows:

The AFP welcomes the ANAO audit report on the Australian Federal Police Protection Services and it is noted that no recommendations have been made by the ANAO. The findings in the report are accepted and, as acknowledged throughout the report, AFP management had already instigated strategies for improvement in these areas.

The AFP will take into consideration each of the ANAO findings and incorporate these into the forward program of work within Protection Services, in order to continue the provision of high quality protection services for and on behalf of the Commonwealth government.


[1] New Realities: National Policing in the 21st Century—Federal Audit of Police Capabilities—Independent Reviewer: Roger Beale, 30 June 2009.

[2] At 21 December 2010, 45 Aviation PSOs had expressed an intention to transfer to Protection.

[3] A survey commissioned by the AFP indicates that 31 per cent of Protection PSOs are considering transitioning to a sworn AFP police officer.

[4] The Government’s December 2009 decision to implement the recommendations of the Federal Audit of Police Capabilities (the Beale Review) relating to airport security will see the AFP Aviation function becoming staffed by sworn police. The transition will take place over three to five years and may result in significant numbers of current Aviation staff (also PSOs) transferring to Protection Services, because they are unable or unwilling to make the transition to sworn police. At 21 December 2010, 45 Aviation PSOs had expressed an intention to transfer to Protection.