The newly restructured Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) faces cultural and structural challenges, but its new director-general Mike Burgess has hit the ground running with the agency’s Corporate Plan 2018-19.

“People and culture” heads the list of priorities, the others being technology, tradecraft, partnerships, and governance and risk.

A new corporate division will implement “a strategic workforce plan, a diversity and inclusion strategy, and an enterprise-wide learning and development plan”.

“These plans form part of ASD’s broader cultural change program. We are implementing this cultural change program to make ASD the type of organisation that people aspire to join, and to foster a culture of excellence and inclusion in ASD,” the plan says. “This program is key to ensuring the smooth integration of the new elements of ASD’s workforce, especially those joining the ACSC [Australian Cyber Security Centre].”

The ACSC now has the extended role of providing cybersecurity advice and assistance not just to Australian governments, but also to “businesses and individuals”, requiring the agency to be far more open with its communication than ever before.

The 2017 Independent Intelligence Review had noted the intelligence community’s difficulties with recruiting and retaining specialist staff, with some being “put off by salary levels” that were lower than the private sector. As a statutory authority, the ASD’s staffing now falls under the Intelligence Services Act 2001 rather than the Public Service…