Are you vulnerable to corruption

From IBAC’s investigations and other experience and insights, we are able to share the common warning signs that corruption may be occurring, or systems are at risk of being exploited.

By analysing data from our complaints, public interest disclosures, investigations, intelligence and other information, we can identify where and how public sector agencies can be vulnerable to corruption.

With knowledge of these ‘red flags’, you can better assess and manage your agency’s unique corruption risks.

  • When not declared openly, or managed consistently, conflicts of interest are often involved in corrupt activity. Conflicts of interest may include:

    • accepting gifts or benefits in exchange for services, contracts or favourable decisions
    • existing or prior personal or business relationships
    • associating with others who may have a business or criminal interest in the public sector
    • breaching agencies’ declarable associations policies
    • participating in secondary employment that conflicts with an employee’s primary public sector employment.

    Find out more in our information sheet and research report on conflicts of interest including how to better understand and manage conflicts, as well as effective prevention and control measures.

  • IBAC’s analysis has identified the threat of organised crime groups cultivating contacts within the public sector to access information, influence decisions and manipulate systems. Criminal groups have been identified targeting all levels of government including council workers, departmental officers and law enforcement employees.

  • Employees who exercise regulatory functions may corruptly use their authority. Types of regulatory functions include:

    • issuing and collecting payment for permits and licenses
    • ensuring compliance with legislative standards
    • investigating breaches and enforcing regulations.

    Undeclared conflicts of interest may also influence their decisions.

  • Unauthorised access and disclosure of public sector information presents significant corruption risks, particularly in agencies with access to sensitive or classified information. Inappropriate information disclosures can have significant consequences for individuals’ safety and privacy, and for the reputations and operations of public agencies.

  • Purchasing goods and services, and managing contractual arrangements are common functions in the public sector. However, IBAC investigations and reviews have exposed just how vulnerable procurement and contract management can be to corruption.

  • Inadequate recruitment and pre and post employment practices leave public sector organisations vulnerable to hiring persons who may be corrupt or susceptible to being corrupted. IBAC and the Victorian Ombudsman have expressed concern that public sector employees accused of misconduct or corruption often resign before an investigation concludes, avoiding disciplinary action.

    Unless specific probity checking arrangements exist between agencies, these problematic staff could be re-employed elsewhere in the public sector with a clean slate. Pre-employment screening and vetting processes need to be commensurate with the levels of access and sensitivity associated with each position. Further post-employment vetting and revalidation should occur both periodically and as required with the frequency and depth of such vetting to be determined by the level of access and sensitivity of each position. Post-employment risk or red flag issues should also lead to consideration of further vetting or revalidation action.