Public sector corruption hurts us all.
We had a development manager in our government agency who was in charge of a major project. He gave over eight million dollars in contracts for the project to a company that then subcontracted the work to other companies run by some members of his family. Because he was allowed to work alone he often ignored procedures and failed to disclose his obvious conflicts of interest. As it turns out, he was dismissed from a private company for misconduct, something not picked up during the recruitment process. The investigation found that the manager secured financial advantage for family members by awarding them contracts without following due process, but we've now put in place extra controls around procurement and have better processes for pre-employment vetting.
Every year, IBAC handles more than 4,000 allegations of corruption and police misconduct. We have made this video to help you as a public sector employee understand your role in reporting and preventing public sector corruption and police misconduct.
IBAC is Victoria's independent anti-corruption agency. Our role at IBAC is to expose, prevent and investigate serious corruption involving state government departments and agencies, Victoria Police, council employees and councillors, members of parliament, judges and magistrates.
IBAC also plays a vital role in providing independent oversight of Victoria Police. Victoria Police is required to notify IBAC of all complaints about the conduct of police employees. IBAC also reviews investigations of selected matters we refer to Victoria Police to ensure they investigated appropriately and fairly. We also have a legislative obligation to ensure Victoria Police officers have regard to the charter of human rights and responsibilities.
IBAC is a key agency in the Victorian integrity system, along with the Victorian Ombudsman and the Victorian Auditor General's Office. These agencies are independent of government and report directly to Parliament. This system aims to protect the integrity of the Victorian public sector.
When something is not right, IBAC provides you with an opportunity to do something about it.
IBAC was notified of an allegation at our local council that an employee had stolen council equipment and then provided it to members of an outlaw motorcycle gang. This guy also had access to the council's databases, including residential rates information that was potentially valuable to the outlaw motorcycle gang members for the purpose of debt collection, extortion and violent offending.
Now the whole situation highlighted how all public sector employees, regardless of their level of seniority and role, can be targeted by organised crime groups to provide valuable information or public assets.
IBAC recommended that our council conduct a review of the accountability of unsupervised staff, that we improve our policies and procedures particularly around conflicts of interest, and that we better educate our staff on their obligations to follow council policies.
IBAC exposes prevents and investigates serious corruption in the Victorian public sector. We do this by providing information about corruption and ways it can be prevented, undertaking research and analysis into corruption issues and risks, assessing allegations of corruption or misconduct and deciding whether to refer, dismiss or ultimately investigate them.
The impact of corruption goes beyond the individuals involved and what it can
mean to their lives through the loss of employment and personal reputation.
They can also be charged with criminal offences and it can hurt the reputation of the organisations they are part of, but it's all Victorians who are the ones that lose the most.
Corruption wastes our taxes and our rates that should be used for important community projects like schools, hospitals, public transport and community services; and corruption erodes the community's confidence and trust in the public sector.
IBAC's role is clearly defined by legislation. It is not a complaints resolution body, nor do we get involved in workplace disputes.
Corruption and misconduct in the Victorian public sector can take many forms such as:
- the taking or offering of bribes
- using a position of influence dishonestly
- committing fraud or theft
- misusing information from the workplace
- planning any corrupt activities.
IBAC cannot investigate issues from other states or territories, any federal matters or anything in the private sector unless it relates to a Victorian public sector employee, and IBAC does not deal with rudeness or poor customer service.
I work at women's prison and it became obvious to a few of us that one of our managers was ignoring the procurement processes and using his influence unfairly. He awarded over one and a half million dollars worth of maintenance works to a business run by his son and daughter-in-law. He also influenced the selection process to help his other son get a job in the prison when he clearly had a conflict of interest by doing it. He was reported, investigated, stood down and in the end he resigned.
There are a number of everyday activities where corruption can occur in the public sector. Areas such as procurement processes, information, financial and employee management can be vulnerable to corruption. They require transparent and well-managed systems to make them corruption resistant.
Some red flags to corruption include: inappropriate use of public resources, accepting gifts and benefits, and bias in recruitment.
If you see something that is not right, do something about it. There are a number of avenues available to you to speak up. As a public sector employee, you can raise the issue in your own organisation directly with a trusted manager or, if you have a protected disclosure coordinator, you can talk to them. If you are not comfortable with how things have been handled internally or want to speak to someone outside of your organisation, you can seek advice directly from IBAC by calling 1300 735 135.
IBAC will assess your complaint and determine whether it is a protected disclosure. If IBAC determines it is a protected disclosure, you cannot be sued for defamation or breach of confidentiality, and you will be immune from civil or criminal liability. If you speak up honestly and are not involved in the corruption yourself, you will be protected.
IBAC is responsible for exposing, preventing and investigating serious corruption and misconduct in the public sector and Victoria Police, but it is up to all of us as public sector employees, to speak up when something is not right.
We all share the responsibility to strengthen the integrity and corruption resilience of the public sector and make sure that public money and resources are used to deliver the services and projects the Victorian community expects.
For more information, visit www.ibac.vic.gov.au or call 1300 735 135.