The activities of the State Intelligence Agency as part of the system of national security protection and the Agency’s Chairperson are subject to parliamentary, administrative, judicial and civil control under Article 21 of the Act on the Management and Functioning of the System of National Security Protection.
Parliamentary oversight of SIA activities
The National Assembly through a standing parliamentary committee:
- controls SIA’s activities;
- monitors and controls the activities related to managing and spending the funds granted to SIA.
The Rules of Organization and Procedure of the National Assembly charge the Committee for Oversight of the Security Services, the Deployment of Special Surveillance Techniques and the Access of Data under the Electronic Communications Act with the power to exercise parliamentary oversight with regards to the work of SIA and to adopt statements regarding its budget. In overseeing the operation of the Agency, the Committee holds its meetings in camera.
No information is provided to said Committee about the organization, methods and tools of implementation of special assignments by means of operational and intelligence gathering work, or about cooperating employees or individuals. The Committee has no right to grant access to classified information obtained by the Committee in the course of overseeing the work of the Agency, in any manner whatsoever, to persons who are not members of said Committee.
Parliament approves the annual report of the Agency’s activities, sanctioned and put forward by the Council of Ministers and submitted to the government by the Chairperson of SIA.
Parliamentary oversight of the SIA Chairperson
The SIA Chairperson is obligated to appear upon invitation before the National Assembly or its committees, in conformity with their area of expertise, and to provide the information requested in adherence to the Protection of Classified Information Act.
The Chairperson of the Agency informs the Committee for Oversight of the Security Services, the Deployment of Special Surveillance Techniques and the Access of Data under the Electronic Communications Act on matters concerning the Agency’s activities upon the request of the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chairperson of the Committee or on personal initiative.
The President of the Republic has the authority to read and issue an opinion on the annual report of the Agency before it is submitted by the Council of Ministers to the National Assembly for approval.
The Prime Minister shall:
- perform the general management, including the control over the Chairperson of the State Agency for Intelligence as part of the intelligence community;
- perform the general management of the international cooperation of SIA with analogous authorities of other states and of international organizations;
- endorse the annual plans on the activities of the State Agency for National Security, the State Agency for Intelligence, the Military Information Service and the Security Council;
- put forward to the Council of Ministers proposals to the President of the Republic of Bulgaria with respect to the appointment / dismissal of the Chairperson of SIA;
- request and receive information and advice from the Chairperson of the Agency on matters related to its functions and operation.
The Chairperson of the Agency submits to the Council of Ministers:
- an annual report on the work of the Agency for the preceding year, no later than 31 March of each year;
- an unclassified annual report which is published on the Council of Ministers’ web page.
In compliance with Article 82, par. (1), subpar. 2 of the Administrative Procedures Code, the administrative acts of the Chairperson of the Agency are not contestable.
External Financial Control
The Bulgarian National Audit Office and the Public Financial Inspection Agency shall exercise financial control on the spending of budgetary funds, with the exception of special funds and expenditure of the Agency, in compliance with the provisions of the Protection of Classified Information Act.
The National Audit Office controls the reliability and the accuracy of the financial reports of SIA as a budget organization; the lawful, effective and economical management of the public funds and activities of the Agency. The National Audit Office performs financial audits, compliance audits, implementation audits and specific audits.
The Public Financial Inspection Agency performs subsequent financial inspections of the observation of legislation, which regulates the budgetary, financial, material and accounting activities, as well as any activities related to the awarding and execution of public contracts.
The Prime Minister must, subject to a proposal by the Chairperson of the Agency, appoint an Inspector to oversee the implementation of the state policy in the Agency and to assist in the prevention and detection of violations of the law, as well as to increase the quality and effectiveness of the performance of the functions and activities assigned to it.
The Inspector shall carry out random and other inspections as instructed by the Chairperson of the Agency or at his/her own initiative with respect to:
- compliance with the regulations and orders of the President of the Agency;
- compliance with the rules of internal order and discipline;
- the prevention and detection of a conflict of interest;
- compliance with the ethical code of conduct for employees;
- stewardship and disposal of material resources;
- the terms and procedure for expending special funds and their accountability;
- the working conditions;
- the management of human resources;
- respect for basic human rights and the fundamental freedoms;
- corruption risks and measures for curbing those.
The Inspector reviews any and all proposals, irregularity reports, complaints and requests, submitted by natural or legal persons to the Chairperson of the Agency, and prepares answers thereto.
The Chairperson of the Agency has the authority to order the Inspector not to launch, or to terminate, a particular inspection, if it involves access to data about operational intelligence sources, methods and tools, operational work or intelligence operations. In such cases, the Inspector has the authority to report to the Prime Minister.
The Inspector reports to the Chairperson the findings of the inspections, carried out by him/her and make suggestions and recommendations in relation thereto.
The Inspector submits an annual report on the results of his/her work of the Prime Minister and the Chairperson of the Agency.
The Financial Controller is directly subordinate to the Chairperson of the Agency.
The Financial Controller performs the preliminary review of the legality of all activities and documents related to the financial operations and other work – with the exception of the special expenditure and activities of the Agency – in compliance with the Law on financial management and control in the public sector and the internal rules and regulations for preliminary control.
The Internal Audit Unit is directly subordinate to the Chairperson of the Agency and performs internal audit in compliance with the Law on Internal Audit in the Public Sector and the instructions of Article 25 of the State Intelligence Agency Act.
In compliance with Article 120 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the courts exercise control as to the legality of the acts issued and the actions performed by administrative bodies. Citizens and legal persons may appeal against any administrative act which affects them, except as is expressly specified [as non-appealable] by statute.
In accordance with this general clause, the administrative acts and actions of the Chairperson of the Agency as an administrative body are subject to judicial control. In compliance with Article 82, par. (1), subpar. 2 of the Administrative Procedures Code, any administrative acts directly related to the defence and/or security of the country are not subject to appeal.
In accordance with Article 18, par. (3) of the State Intelligence Agency Act, any acts of the Chairperson of the Agency whereby an officer's employment is terminated or acts imposing disciplinary sanctions may be appealed pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Code.
In compliance with Article 18, par. (2), no act of the Chairperson of the Agency, pertinent to the selection and appointment of applicants for office, is subject to appeal.
Right to information
In compliance with Article 41, par (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, everyone has the right to seek, receive, and disseminate information, while the exercise of this right, however, may not be prejudicial to national security.
Based on the constitutional provisions for the right to information and the restrictions with respect to its exercise, Article 27 of the State Intelligence Agency Act states:
- While granting the right of access under the Personal Data Protection Act and the Law on Access to Public Information, the Agency does not supply data about its officers, cooperating individuals, or any intelligence gathering operations of the Agency.
- The Agency generates and maintains its own archive and special filing department for the storage of files, reports and data about foreign nationals. The files, reports and data to be stored in the archive and special filing department, as well as the procedure for access thereto, shall be determined by an order of the Chairperson of the Agency.
- The Agency may deny information about its undercover agents or members of the public who cooperate or have cooperated with it, to ensure the protection of their interests, the methods and means of intelligence gathering.
The Act on the Management and Functioning of the System of National Security Protection requires SIA to compile and submit for publication on the web page of the Council of Ministers an unclassified annual report of its activities.
Mechanisms for interaction
The Act on the Management and Functioning of the System of National Security Protection states that the Council of Ministers shall establish a consultative mechanism for participation of representatives of non-profit legal entities, whose registered objectives are related to national security protection, in discussions or in the preparation of draft legislation, reports and other documents on issues within the competence of the Security Council, in compliance with the Public Information Access Act and the Classified Information Protection Act.
The State Intelligence Agency Act states that the Inspector reviews any and all proposals, irregularity reports, complaints and requests, submitted by natural or legal persons to the Chairperson of the Agency, and prepares answers thereto.