Emerging public sector corruption risks in Victoria

Christine Howlett

By IBAC Executive Director Prevention & Communication Christine Howlett

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) regularly undertakes research and strategic intelligence projects to inform our work to expose and prevent corruption and police misconduct. Last year, we completed a major strategic intelligence assessment of key corruption issues and emerging risks across Victoria's public sector, and associated drivers of these risks.

The strategic assessment involved:

▪ stakeholder consultation – more than 50 face-to-face meetings were held with representatives from state and local government agencies - and online surveys conducted with 1925 public sector employees on perceptions of corruption risk

▪ literature review and desktop research on national and international corruption risks, trends and issues

▪ data analysis drawing on various sources of open data, as well as IBAC's and other integrity agencies' holdings.

IBAC has produced an infographic and video to share the strategic assessment's findings.

The strategic assessment identifies key emerging risks related to Victoria's projected population growth and associated development. It also outlines opportunities to improve transparency in public sector processes and decision making to prevent and detect corruption when it does occur. As the Victorian Information Commissioner Sven Bluemmel outlined in our last edition of IBAC Insights, limited visibility in how decisions are made and a lack of access to information across state and local government can create corruption vulnerabilities, and undermine public confidence and trust in government.

Through this research, we also found many well-known vulnerabilities persist and continue to create ongoing opportunities for corruption and misconduct to occur. Some enduring risks include conflicts of interest, misusing information, and infiltration by organised crime. There are also certain activities which can be vulnerable to corruption without robust governance and controls, such as large infrastructure projects, procurement, land use planning, and grants programs.

It is important to note the research for this strategic assessment was conducted in a pre-COVID-19 operating environment. IBAC has produced resources on corruption risks which can be heightened for state government agencies and local councils during emergencies and crisis situations, the associated warning signs or 'red flags', and suggested prevention measures to help minimise risk.

IBAC's strategic assessment calls out the need for corruption prevention practitioners across state and local government agencies to renew and re-energise efforts to address known corruption risks, while strengthening capabilities to identify emerging issues. As the past year has clearly demonstrated, we need to remain vigilant to changes in the public sector operating environment, and proactive in sharing data and insights such as those from IBAC’s strategic assessment to help identify new risks and emerging drivers.

For more information on corruption risks, trends and control measures, or to report corruption go to www.ibac.vic.gov.au.