Recruitment and employment

Recruitment and employment practices can be and have been particularly vulnerable to corruption risks.

In our investigations, we have seen several examples of managers failing to undertake levels of pre-employment screening and vetting commensurate with the levels of access and sensitivity of each position. We have also seen recruitment processes where clear conflicts of interest including favoritism, discrimination and nepotism have taken place.

Lack of appropriate levels of pre-employment screening and vetting and post-employment revalidation has led to many issues relating to the background of candidates not being ascertained and has facilitated the practice of ‘recycling’ employees with problematic discipline, complaint or criminal histories. In many cases such ‘recycled’ employees have been involved in corruption and/or misconduct in the new agency.

  • In 2013 the Victorian Ombudsman reported on 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 in adopting any 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 candidate background

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

    Candidate declarations

    • Requiring prospective public sector employees to complete a statutory declaration in relation to prior work history, including whether they have ever been the subject of an investigation for a criminal or disciplinary matter
    • Requiring candidates to sign a waiver allowing employers to check up on prior discipline history across the public sector (while concerns may be raised about the application of privacy principles, provided a prospective public sector employee consents to providing information about their employment history and to that information being shared between agencies, there is no breach of privacy legislation)
    • Integrate mandatory reporting of declarable associations/conflicts of interest into the recruitment process and during periodic checks on employees’ personal particulars
    • Introduce clear consequences for staff failing to declare an association

    Revalidating employees

    • Supervise new-starters
    • Revalidate employees security clearances at regular and or random intervals
  • Following a complaint, an investigator resigned from his public sector job. He later appeared in court on charges of theft, unrelated to his employment. The matter was found proven and he was ordered to pay restitution in the thousands of dollars. The man was then employed by an inner Melbourne council. Some years later, he was arrested and charged by police with several counts of bribery. He was found to have tipped off individuals involved in running illegal brothels about impending compliance inspections or police raids in exchange for money. The man received more than $130,000 in bribes over 10 years. He was sentenced to three years and two months imprisonment.