The Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 ("the ICAC Act") confers significant powers and discretion on the Commissioner and ICAC staff. Given these extensive powers, it is important that there is a comprehensive accountability framework in place to ensure the ICAC's powers are not abused and that it meets its legislative responsibilities.
The ICAC is primarily accountable through the:
- NSW Parliament's Committee on the ICAC‚
A committee with members from both houses of the NSW Parliament. This committee monitors the ICAC's performance of its functions and reports.
- Inspector of the ICAC
The Inspector may audit the ICAC's operations to monitor compliance with the law, investigate complaints against the ICAC or Commission officers, deal with maladministration (including delays in the conduct of investigations and unreasonable invasions of privacy) and assess the effectiveness and appropriateness of the ICAC's procedures.
The ICAC is also externally accountable for its work through:
- accounting to the NSW Treasury and Auditor General for the proper expenditure of funds
- inspection by the NSW Ombudsman of records of telecommunications interceptions, controlled operations and the use of surveillance devices
- reporting to the NSW Attorney General and the judge who issued the warrant for each surveillance device
- compliance with access to information and privacy laws, with exemption for certain operational matters
- requirements for annual reporting, including those in the ICAC Act.
The ICAC has an internal accountability system including strict requirements on the exercise of its powers. Internal accountability mechanisms include:
- the Executive Management Group (EMG), to oversee corporate governance and budgeting, and provide overall strategic direction
- the Strategic Investigation Group (SIG), to oversee investigations
- the Prevention Management Group (PMG), to oversee ICAC corruption prevention activities
- the Audit and Risk Committee, to provide independent assistance to the ICAC by overseeing and monitoring its governance and risk and control frameworks
- the Health and Safety Committee to consult on health, safety and risk management within the workplace
- the Access and Equity Committee, to oversee equal employment opportunity issues, plans, policies and procedures.
Other accountability mechanisms
- The ICAC Commissioner's term is for five-years and is non-renewable.
- The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) applies (operational matters are exempt).
- The NSW Supreme Court has both an inherent and statutory jurisdiction to supervise the functioning of administratvie tribunals such as the ICAC to ensure such tribunals act according to law. It is a general but limited jurisdiction.