Recruitment and employment

Recruitment and employment practices are particularly vulnerable to corruption risks.

IBAC investigations have identified examples of managers failing to conduct pre-employment screening and vetting processes that reflect the level of access and sensitivity associated with a role. They’ve also found clear conflicts of interest – including favouritism, discrimination and nepotism.

Without probity check arrangements between public sector agencies, problematic staff can be unknowingly re-employed. ‘Recycled’ employees often repeat corrupt behaviour or misconduct at a new agency.

  • The Victorian Ombudsman identified key concerns in public sector employment arising from more than 60 investigations, including:

    • inadequate pre-employment screening
    • appointments compromised by nepotism, favouritism and conflicts of interest
    • recycling of officers with histories of questionable conduct or performance.
  • Agencies should take a risk-based approach when adopting control measures, based on a solid understanding of the corruption and misconduct risks faced by their agency, as well as the risks associated with particular positions.

    Thoroughly check candidates' backgrounds

    • Consider pre-employment screening services
    • Conduct web and social media searches.

    Candidate declarations

    • Require prospective public sector employees to complete a statutory declaration in relation to their prior work history, including whether they have ever been the subject of an investigation for a criminal or disciplinary matter
    • Require candidates to sign a waiver allowing employers to check their prior discipline history across the public sector – if a prospective employee consents to providing information about their employment history and it being shared between agencies, there is no breach of privacy legislation
    • Integrate mandatory reporting of declarable associations or conflicts of interest into the recruitment process and during periodic checks on an employee’s particulars
    • Introduce clear consequences for staff who fail to declare an association.

    Revalidating employees

    • Supervise new-starters
    • Revalidate employees security clearances at regular or random intervals.
  • After a complaint, an investigator resigned from his public sector job. He was later charged with theft, unrelated to his work, and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution.

    He then took a job at an inner Melbourne council. Some years later, he was arrested and charged with several counts of bribery. He had received more than $130,000 in bribes over 10 years, for tipping off illegal brothel operators about impending compliance inspections or police raids. He was sentenced to three years and two months in prison.