In September 2001, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) published their report into corruption prevention at the local government level. ICAC, a public authority independent of the government, seeks to protect the public interest, prevent breaches of public trust and guide the conduct of the public sector in NSW. It has the authority to examine any issue involving public sector corruption.
The ICAC report, entitled Managing Risk: Reducing Corruption Risks in Local Government and chaired by Commissioner Irene Moss, identified the main corruption risks in procurement and contract administration in local councils as well as addressing measures that can be adopted to build corruption resistant practises.
The report identifies three categories that risk to local council integrity. The first section of the report, entitled “putting contractors in the picture” examines the risk that private contractors may be unaware of the ethical requirements demanded of public sector officials, and may induce an official to act corruptly. The report then lists strategies councils can assume to educate private contractors about council ethics in order to avoid compromising council integrity.
The second area of investigation examined relates to structural issues that overarch and govern local councils’ procurement of contracts. It looks into legislation and council policies and processes and recommends strategies to handle gaps in the system.
The final section of the report, “contract administration”, identifies the main risks involved in the administration of contracts and their variations.
The report’s key recommendations include that councils undertake a review of their procedures for the procurement of council contracts, in order to assess their corruption risk. The report requests that councils advise ICAC of strategies they have adopted to combat corruption risks as well as including corruption risk management in their general risk management policies and procedures.
Following the report, ICAC has issued all NSW local councils with a folder entitled Roads Rates and Rubbish. Reducing corruption risks in local government, providing councils with a key resource to help them combat corruption.
Reports on reducing corruption risks are available at the ICAC website.