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The Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination (ODESC)

The Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination – commonly referred to as ODESC - is a committee of Chief Executives which manages national security in New Zealand in both its governance and its response mode.

During an emerging or actual security event ODESC:

  • Provides all-of-government coordination at the Chief Executive level of the issues being dealt with through the response;
  • Provides strategic advice on priorities and mitigation of risks beyond the lead agency’s control;
  • Ensures that the lead agency and those in support have the resources and capabilities required to bring the response to an effective resolution;
  • Provides the linkages to the political level, including supporting Ministers to make decisions about strategic policy, authorisation of resources or any other decisions which sit within Ministers’ area of control;
  • Exercises policy oversight and advises the Prime Minister, Cabinet, and, when activated, the Cabinet National Security Committee, accordingly.

ODESC members operate as a collective. They focus on the National Security System rather than attending solely as the heads of their respective agencies. Members take advice from the Watch Group, the lead agency and the ODESC members around the table and apply their collective judgment and experience in assessing the high-level strategic implications of the issue and agreeing on response options.

ODESC does not override the responsibilities which individual Chief Executives or Ministers have to take decisions in their own areas of concern. Usual conventions about the roles and responsibilities of Ministers, Chief Executives and senior officials with respect to decision-making continue to apply. These are set out in the Cabinet Manual and in various pieces of legislation.

ODESC membership

When ODESC meets to deal with a crisis or developing event, the membership reflects the situation.

The Chief Executive of DPMC is always the Chair of ODESC and will invite colleagues to attend an ODESC meeting as they deem necessary, having regard to the issues in play and to ensure the right mix.

Outside times of crisis, ODESC(G), is the primary governance board and, unlike ODESC, it has a set membership.

Examples of ODESC meetings recently held to consider potential, emerging or actual events:

  • Implications for New Zealand of the terrorist attacks in Paris (2015);
  • Security arrangements for the Cricket World Cup (2014-2015);
  • Operation Concord (1080 contamination threat) (2014-2015);
  • Ebola Viral Disease outbreak (2014).

For more information download the National Security System Handbook.

Last updated: 
Thursday, 25 August 2016

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