Sector profile

Corruption and misconduct risks in the transport sector

The enduring and emerging corruption and misconduct risks for the transport sector identified through IBAC’s work, and insights from IBAC’s investigations and reviews of internal investigations.

    • Favouritism in people management and procurement practices 
      • recruitment or promotion of personnel without relevant experience, and the perceived or actual practice of cronyism
      • departmental tender documentation allegedly being sent to a prospective tenderer in advance of its official release
      • employees alleging that their leaders engage in cronyism or nepotism
      • senior project managers inappropriately using private companies they are associated with to source staff
      • employees failing to disclose conflicts of interest and setting up entities with the aim of obtaining income from the department
      • employees not declaring close and intimate relationships with individuals they have recruited or with whom they have a contractual agreement with
    • Inaction in official capacity, official powers or people management
      • senior managers failing to take sufficient or appropriate action against fraudulent activity
      • managers failing to take sufficient or appropriate action against bullying and discrimination
      • agencies failing to obey policies by undertaking public consultation regarding works, or failing to comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations
      • senior executives not following recruitment policies and processes by not correctly publicising recruitment opportunities or allowing processes to be bypassed to allow insufficiently qualified candidates to be selected
      • contractors being allowed to enter into multiple labour supply contracts and/or employment arrangements with several public entities prior to declaring or seeking permission to undertake secondary employment
      • departmental officers not advertising or fairly evaluating procurement of professional services
      • a manager encouraging workers to conduct improper inspections of roads in order to benefit financially
    • Poor identification and management of conflicts of interest relating to the contracting of personal acquaintances or family members
    • Unauthorised access to sensitive personal and business information, which is then used to grant unfair advantage to a tenderer
    • Collusion, including attempts to manipulate procurement processes
    • Fraud, including practices such as timesheet fraud, unauthorised use of funds, and false invoicing to reclaim expenses already paid
  • Private sector transport contractors

    • Collusion through attempts to manipulate procurement policies and processes and favour the use of particular contractors

    Misuse of information/resources for personal/associates’ benefit 

    • Misuse of commercial-in-confidence information to gain advantage in tender bidding or contract negotiations
      • Unauthorised information access and sharing of commercial-in-confidence information
      • Fabrication, forgery or alteration of licencing tests
    • Recruitment fraud
      • Falsification of CVs and other information to influence recruitment processes
    • Increases in government spending, particularly in transport infrastructure – the 2022-23 Victorian State Budget committed $3.5 billion.
    • Complex operating environments and processes, particularly in public-private partnerships
    • High levels of dependence on small pools of contractors
    • Lack of awareness about corruption and associated prevention and reporting strategies across the sector, particularly by contractors in transport and infrastructure delivery
  • Operation Esperance into V/Line (investigation started 2018)
    The investigation’s initial scope concerned allegations of corrupt conduct in the improper awarding of consultancy contracts by certain V/Line senior officers. In February 2019, the investigation widened to include the suspected involvement of the then V/Line CEO and their alleged failure to properly declare conflicts of interest during procurement and recruitment processes for consultants and V/Line employees working in finance, IT, and human resources. Additionally, IBAC identified several suspect financial transactions between the CEO and employees of a company contracted to provide cleaning services to V/Line. 

    Seven people, including the former V/Line CEO and a former manager at Metro Trains, have been charged and the matter is now before the Court.

    Operation Panarea into VicRoads (investigation stated in 2017)
    Operation Panarea identified several issues and corruption vulnerabilities associated with VicRoads procurement practices, including poor compliance with procurement processes and awareness of procurement policies, inadequate staff training and record keeping, ineffective internal controls to identify non-compliance, lack of oversight by senior management including evidence of poor workplace performance and supervision.

  • Western Australian Corruption and Crime Commission (WA CCC) 

    • In 2021, the WA CCC conducted a thematic review of the WA Department of Transport’s management of unlawful access to the state’s database for vehicle and driver licensing and registration services. The review identified incidents involving improper user access to TRELIS. Some of the reasons for access included viewing of the user's own driver licence details, renewing a family member's vehicle registration, or obtaining information to share with family or friends.
    • In 2019, the WA CCC conducted a review of recommendations made to the Department of Transport arising from three WA CCC reports. These related to the fraudulent issuing of driver licences. 

    NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) 

    • In 2021, the NSW ICAC investigated an allegation that, between 2009 and June 2019, two employees of the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) partially or dishonestly exercised their official functions by awarding at least $38 million in RMS contracts to companies with which they were associated, in exchange for receiving benefits. In 2023, the NSW ICAC made findings of serious corrupt conduct against two former RMS employees and 13 contractors. It subsequently made nine recommendations to help Transport for NSW (TfNSW) prevent the conduct uncovered in the investigation from recurring.
    • In 2023, the NSW ICAC investigated allegations concerning the conduct of former employees of Inner West Council (IWC) and TfNSW who, between 2014 and 2021, partially or dishonestly exercised their official functions by awarding and/or recommending public contracts and tenders to companies with which they were associated.