Sector profile

Transport - snapshot and key insights

The transport sector in Victoria is large and complex, including both public and private agencies. The Department of Transport and Planning (DTP), its portfolio agencies, and other public sector transport agencies work with private sector companies to plan, build and operate public transport services, and to both develop and maintain transport infrastructure, including for roads, public transport, ports and freight.  

  • Key insights

    • Organisations with high public interaction and visibility attract more allegations of corruption 
    • Of the complaints and notifications received by IBAC relating to the transport  sector  from 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022, 87% relate to public sector agencies or employees, not private sector contractors. This likely is due to the community being less aware that IBAC can investigate allegations against private sector contractors in some circumstances. Please note, this profile analyses complaints against the Department of Transport and Planning, its portfolio agencies and public transport services, but does not include allegations against the Major Transport Infrastructure Agency or the Suburban Rail Loop Authority. 

    Key corruption risks 

    • 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 being sent to a prospective tenderer in advance of its official release
    • Inaction while acting in official capacities, such as through failing to take sufficient or appropriate action against fraudulent activity
    • Poor identification and management of conflicts of interest, including in relation to personal acquaintances or family members
    • Unauthorised access to and disclosure of sensitive personal and organisational information, which is then used to grant unfair advantage to a tenderer
    • Collusion, including attempts to manipulate procurement and recruitment processes
    • Fraud, including practices such as timesheet fraud, unauthorised use of funds, and false invoicing to reclaim expenses already paid

    Key drivers of corruption risk

    • Increased government spending in the sector
    • Complex operating environments and processes, particularly in public-private partnerships
    • High levels of dependence on a small pool of infrastructure contractors, which could lead to increased conflict of interest risks
    • Lack of awareness about corruption and associated prevention and reporting strategies, particularly by contractors in transport and infrastructure delivery
    • Increased pressure to deliver projects on time and within budget 

    High risk business areas 

    • Procurement, particularly for fraud or circumventing procurement processes
    • Private sector transport contractors
      • Collusion with contractors 
      • Misuse of information and other resources for personal/associate benefit
      • Recruitment fraud

    Key prevention and detection strategies

    • Strong integrity frameworks that identify perceived, potential or actual conflicts of interest, as well as how they should be managed
    • Proactive measures, such as mandatory and regular training and awareness raising to ensure staff – including private sector employees – are aware of and understand integrity-related policies and procedures
    • Robust recruitment policies and procedures to ensure integrity from shortlisting, panel selection and vetting, through to induction
    • Regular and random audits to ensure compliance with policies and procedures in risk areas such as procurement, recruitment and information security)
    • Building a positive ‘speak up’ culture built on an integrity framework, and a leadership culture that leads by example
    • Financial systems and technology that track activities related to procurement, contracts and purchases and detect anomalies
    • Pleasingly, IBAC’s 2022 Perceptions of Corruption Survey of the Public Sector found that 37% of public sector employees who responded believe their organisation performs very well when it comes to ensuring strong policies, procedures and controls are in place. 40% considered it to be adequate.
  • The transport sector in Victoria includes both public and private agencies. This includes the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP), its portfolio agencies such as Public Transport Victoria and VicRoads, and other agencies that work with private sector companies to deliver public transport services, and to maintain transport infrastructure, including for roads, public transport, ports and freight. 

    The sector has significant private sector involvement including in the areas of transport infrastructure building and maintenance. However, the limited application of public sector integrity standards within the private sector has the potential to negatively impact integrity, and the detection and reporting of corruption. Despite being privately owned, the companies that operate the state’s public transport services (such as Yarra Trams and Metro Trains) are still considered public bodies under the IBAC Act and can therefore be investigated by IBAC for corruption and misconduct. 

    Employee numbers may have a correlation to the number of allegations of corruption for the transport sector, with larger organisations generally attracting higher numbers of allegations and cases. For instance, the former Department of Transport (excluding MTIA and SRLA) was the subject of 29 allegations made to IBAC between 2018 and 2021, with approximately 3,831 employees at the time. This is compared to zero allegations made against smaller transport sector public entities such as the Victorian Regional Channels Authority and the Victorian Ports Corporation (which only have approximately 15 and 55 employees respectively) for the same period. 

    Department of Transport and Planning

    The Department includes the public-facing brands of Public Transport Victoria, VicRoads, Road Safety Victoria, Regional Roads Victoria, Freight Victoria,
    Active Transport Victoria, Heritage Council Victoria, and Land Use Victoria. It also has two administrative offices, Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) and Office of the Victorian Government Architect (OVGA). The Department works closely with MTIA to meet the needs of Australia’s fastest growing state and its economy, while managing record investment in infrastructure through the Big Build. MTIA oversees Victoria’s five Big Build projects:

    • Level Crossing Removal Project
    • North East Link Project
    • West Gate Tunnel Project
    • Major Road Projects Victoria and
    • Rail Projects Victoria.

    The Department also works closely with organisations who share responsibility for parts of the transport and planning system, and a wide variety of stakeholders who make up the transport and planning sectors. Portfolio partners, planning statutory authorities, advisory bodies, and agencies include:

    • Accessible Transport Advisory Committee
    • Architects Registration Board of Victoria
    • Building Appeals Board
    • Chief Investigator Transport Safety
    • Cladding Safety Victoria
    • Development Victoria
    • Gippsland Ports Committee of Management
    • Heritage Council Victoria
    • Motorcycling Community Engagement Panel
    • North East Link State Tolling Corporation
    • Planning Panels Victoria
    • Port of Hastings Corporation
    • Ports Victoria
    • Public Transport Ombudsman
    • Safe Transport Victoria
    • Suburban Rail Loop Authority
    • Surveyors Registration Board of Victoria
    • Transport Accident Commission
    • V/Line
    • Victorian Building Authority
    • Victorian Planning Authority
    • VicTrack.

    The Department's Operators and joint venture partners include:

    • Bus operators
    • CityLink
    • EastLink
    • Freight operators
    • Metro Trains Melbourne
    • Registration and licensing joint venture
    • Peninsula Link
    • Port operators
    • Secure Electronic Registries Victoria (SERV)
    • SkyBus
    • Yarra Trams.
    • Most (89%) Victorian Government employees across all sectors agree that they know what behaviour constitutes corruption 
    • Six in 10 employees (61%) agree that corruption is a problem in Victoria, fewer (20%) agree that it is a problem in their workplace. However, this was considerably worse for transport workers, with more agreeing that corruption is a problem in their workplace (34%).
    • Most Victorian Government employees believe a report of corruption would definitely (35%) or probably (26%) be taken seriously
    • The behaviours considered to be a high risk of occurring are favouritism and breach of professional boundaries (particularly bullying and harassment)
    • Most Victorian public sector employees (84%) describe the ethical culture of the organisation as ‘strong’ (44%) or ‘moderate’ (40%)
    • Over a third (37%) of public sector employees believe their organisation performs very well when it comes to ensuring strong policies, procedures and controls are in place. 40% considered it to be adequate.
  • One of IBAC’s core functions is to receive and assess complaints (from the public) and notifications (from departments and agencies) alleging public sector 
    corruption or police personnel misconduct. IBAC also receives complaints about a range of other conduct it cannot investigate because it is not alleged corruption or misconduct.

    IBAC considers complaints made about corruption and misconduct (including improper conduct under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012 (Vic) (PID Act) concerning a public officer or a member of Victoria Police personnel. IBAC also receives mandatory notifications from principal officers of public sector departments and agencies and Victoria Police. A single complaint or notification may contain several separate allegations that are individually assessed to determine an appropriate outcome. Possible outcomes of our assessment of each allegation are:

    • investigate
    • refer the allegations to another agency
    • dismiss, generally because they did not involve corrupt conduct or police misconduct; were outside the scope of who we investigate; lacked substance or credibility, or were frivolous or vexatious; or have otherwise already been dealt with by IBAC or another agency
    • for PID notifications, return the allegations to the notifying agency if IBAC assesses the original complaint as not being a public interest complaint
    • take no further action.

    This profile includes data about allegations received by IBAC. There are limitations with the use of this data, including: 

    • allegations are unsubstantiated at the time of receipt
    • allegations can be incomplete, lack detail, be from an anonymous source or may not individually name the subject person of the allegation
    • allegation data is not a comprehensive or reliable indicator of the actual prevalence of particular activities, or the risk mitigation practices and compliance activities already in place.

    Despite these limitations, analysis of allegations can assist in identifying trends or patterns and provide practical examples of identified trends.

    The following data includes allegations received and assessed by IBAC between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2022. It does not contain the outcomes of any investigations undertaken as a result of these allegations. 

Although transport infrastructure agencies, including the MTIA and the SRLA, are within the transport portfolio, the following data does not include allegations and cases relating to them. 
Graph 1. Cases against the transport sector (1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022)

Graph 1. Cases against the transport sector (1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022)

IBAC has received 255 cases containing 573 allegations related to organisations in the transport sector between July 2018 and December 2022. 

Around 61% of these allegations were dismissed, two allegations were returned to the agency that submitted them for actioning, around 32% were referred, and less than 5% were the subject of an investigation or preliminary inquiries. This dismissal rate is largely consistent with the dismissal rate for all allegations made against the public sector (excluding police and local government). Allegations are primarily dismissed when they lack actionable detail or fail to meet the threshold for serious or systemic corruption, which IBAC must prioritise for investigation under the IBAC Act. There is a slightly higher investigation rate for transport related cases than for those across other sectors. The slightly higher investigation rate partly reflects IBAC’s Operation Esperance and may also be due to the transport sector receiving the most allocated funding correlating to the amount of procurement and contracting arrangements. 

IBAC refers allegations to other public sector agencies. This may be because it doesn't involve public sector corruption or police misconduct, it falls outside who IBAC is authorised to investigate or IBAC assesses that the allegations should go to another agency that is better placed to act on it. The public sector agencies that received the most referrals were V/Line (around 30%), the Victorian Ombudsman (around 26%), the former Department of Transport (around 19%) and VicRoads (around 9%).

The governance and structure of the sector has changed during the time period shown.  On 1 July 2019, VicRoads and Public Transport were integrated into the new Department of Transport, with this further changing to the Department of Transport and Planning on 1 January 2023. 

Note: The peaks in cases in 2018/19 Q1 and 2020/21 Q1 may be influenced by IBAC’s operations and prevention activity including the public reporting on Operation Lansdowne and Operation Esperance.

Graph 2. Public vs private allegations and cases (1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022)

Graph 2. Public vs private allegations and cases (1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022)

IBAC receives more allegations about public sector employees (87% of total) in the transport sector than employees in private sector agencies, shown in the graph as Business/For profit. This is despite the private sector comprising over half of the employees in the transport sector. This does not necessarily indicate less corruption in the private sector, rather it is likely due to the sector being less aware that IBAC can investigate allegations against private sector contractors in some circumstances.

Graph 3. Allegations received against the transport sector by type of behaviour and organisation function (1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022)

Graph 3. Allegations received against the transport sector by type of behaviour and organisation function (1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022)

IBAC categorises all allegations by the behaviour being alleged and the organisation’s function or activity alleged to have been corrupted. 

The most common types of allegation behaviours against the transport sector (outlined in graph 3), and corresponding examples, are detailed below: 


  • failing to take sufficient or appropriate action, including failure to respond to customer requests or complaints
  • failing to obey instructions or policies, especially while in an official capacity, or while managing people or undertaking procurement
  • failing to properly investigate complaints or incidents about misconduct, fraud and corruption


  • seeking or showing preferential treatment, particularly in people management and procurement and purchasing. This is likely driven by the specialised nature of some roles in the transport sector, which limits the number of suitable candidates and suppliers, and can give the perception of preferential treatment even if robust recruitment or procurement processes exist and are followed.
  • hiding, failing to disclose, or failing to manage conflicts of interest 

Breach of professional boundaries 

  • exceeding delegated powers, including in relation to enforcement powers particularly related to public transport ticketing
  • bullying or harassment

Misuse of resources and information 

  • data breaches and unauthorised deletion of data
  • fabrication, forgery or alteration of information, including fraudulently issuing drivers licences in exchange for money and submitting fraudulent claims for reimbursement
  • unauthorised access to, or disclosure of, confidential information, such as sensitive tender information 


  • claiming expenses that have already been paid for by the organisation
  • falsifying time sheets
  • claiming travel and incidental claims allowances for time not worked

Of interest, IBAC conducted perceptions of corruption surveys of public sector employees in 2022 that found both favouritism and breach of professional boundaries were considered to be behaviours that were of a high risk of occurring. 

Graph 4. Most common allegations by function and organisation type (1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022)

Graph 4. Most common allegations by function and organisation type (1 July 2018 to 31 December 2022)

The most common types of allegation function for the transport sector (shown in graph 4), and related examples, are detailed below:

Official capacity 

  • administrative action, minor activities usually associated with the agency’s primary business
    • taking detrimental action against other staff members for raising concerns about corrupt and improper conduct
    • failing to adequately declare and manage conflicts of interest 
  • external stakeholder engagement (interactions with clients)
    • offering to accept bribes from contractors
  • internal engagement, such as interactions between staff
    • bullying and discriminatory behaviours 

People management 

  • recruitment and promotion 
    • providing false statements about qualifications
    • using undue influence to employ family, friends and other associates
  • complaints management, such as internal investigations 
    • failing to take sufficient action against complaints or failing to conduct thorough and impartial investigations

Financial management 

  • payroll, such as leave and salaries
    • inappropriately authorising salary increases 
    • submitting fraudulent timesheets and failing to record leave
    • fraudulently claiming reimbursements
  • delegations
    • colluding with contractors to enable ‘double dipping’ of government funding
    • failing to manage conflicts of interest 
  • accounts payable and receivable.
    • overpaying contractors for work

Procurement and purchasing 

  • contract management
    • soliciting bribes, gifts and entertainment in exchange for contracts
    • manipulating contract performance measures to ensure certain contractors meet contractual obligations
  • contractor selection processes
    • manipulating selection processes by sharing one supplier’s proposal with another
    • showing favouritism by offering guidance to one tenderer but not others

Official powers

  • granting authorisations and licensing
    • accepting bribes to provide licences 
  • inspections and investigations. Like other departments, transport is the subject of complaints relating to alleged inappropriate, incomplete or incorrectly performed investigations into allegations of behaviours such as fraudulent use of resources or favouritism related to tendering. The department’s inspections and investigations, undertaken by agencies such as VicRoads and the Transport Accident Commission, can also be at risk of perceived or actual corruption or fraud related to decisions that impact licencing or compensation.