An IBAC investigation into the conduct of officers of the Department of Education and Training, in connection with the use of 'banker schools' and related activities.
Initiated by IBAC in 2013, the Operation Ord investigation focused on allegations that senior departmental officers corruptly misappropriated funds from the Department’s budget, including funds allocated to state primary and secondary schools, through false and inflated invoicing as well as by arranging payment of inappropriate expenses such as excessive hospitality, travel and personal items.
IBAC considered the allegations would, if proven, amount to serious corrupt conduct under the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Act 2011 (IBAC Act). The complaint was determined to be an assessable disclosure within the meaning of the Protected Disclosure Act 2012.
The investigation exposed the exploitation of so-called 'banker schools'. Used legitimately, the purpose of banker schools was to facilitate the payment of invoices on behalf of a region or a cluster of schools for a proper purpose, such as an area-based student program. However, Operation Ord exposed the practice of certain senior departmental officers using schools to pay both illegitimate invoices (namely, invoices for goods and services either not delivered or significantly inflated, as well as invoices for goods and services completely unrelated to departmental activities) and inappropriate expenses (such as alcohol, lavish hospitality and expensive retreats).
The investigation found the improper use of schools to pay illegitimate or inappropriate invoices was facilitated by a number of principals and business managers, who are considered to have failed in their financial management duty by not questioning the invoices. The reasons for this varied but included close relationships between principals and senior departmental officers initiating the payment of invoices, and benefits that flowed to the school and some school officers.
Nino Napoli, a former senior departmental executive, was identified as the principal player in the corrupt conduct uncovered during Operation Ord. Mr Napoli was a director responsible for overseeing the administration of the $5.5 billion budget allocated to schools. It is estimated that Mr Napoli used his position and his network of influence to corruptly obtain at least $1.9 million for his own benefit or for the benefit of his relatives and associates, through the payment of invoices between 2007 and 2014.
This special report on the investigation was tabled to Parliament on 29 April 2016. Prosecutions and convictions followed.
Responses to IBAC recommendations
IBAC's special report recommended DET implement reforms to address the serious corruption uncovered in Operation Ord and to improve its systems and practices to prevent corruption.
DET was required to report back to IBAC on progress in implementing these reforms.
IBAC also recommended that the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) provide a report on whole-of-government reforms being implemented by the Victorian Secretaries Board to prevent corruption prevention and strengthen integrity.
IBAC publishes responses to our investigations to inform the community about actions agencies advise they are taking, and to share learnings that may help other agencies improve their systems and practices to prevent corruption and misconduct.