31 March 2011
NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption has reported on its investigation into staff fraud at Sydney Water. Employees in several parts of the business have been illicitly paid for misusing their powers. Incidents include using agency resources for contractors’ advantage, unfairly exercising discretions, and false invoicing. One case involved the unauthorised spending of $300,000. ICAC has proposed prosecutions and disciplinary action . It has recommended 18 corruption prevention measures to avoid recurring incidents at Sydney Water.
None of the incidents has any novel characteristics. Manipulation by untrustworthy staff was facilitated by inadequate systems and poor instilling of trustworthy behaviour throughout the agency by leaders. The recommendations made by ICAC are common to many corruption reports. All fit within the “6 trust elements” mantra of the State Services Commission – that agencies have standards, that they promote them, that they integrate them into the way the agency operates, that managers model integrity, that decisive action is taken on breaches and that staff know the consequences of misconduct.
ICAC expects that Sydney Water will periodically promote awareness of protected disclosures legislation and the employee rights it provides. That recommendation has universal application and is almost universally disregarded.