The three main areas of the ICAC's work are:

  • investigating and exposing corrupt conduct in the NSW public sector
  • preventing corruption through advice and assistance
  • educating the NSW community and public sector about corruption and its effects.

Investigating corruption and NSW Electoral Commission referrals

(updated October 2015 in bold to reflect the Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment Act 2015)

These key functions are achieved through the receipt, analysis and assessment of complaints and reports of alleged corruption, referrals by the NSW Electoral Commission of certain possible criminal offences under election funding, election or lobbying laws, and the conduct of investigations, compulsory examinations and public inquiries into serious and systemic corruption. 

The Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 gives the ICAC broad jurisdiction to investigate any allegation or circumstance which, in its opinion, implies that corrupt conduct has occurred. The ICAC can also investigate conduct likely to allow, encourage or cause corrupt conduct.

The ICAC actively encourages members of the public and public officials to report suspected corrupt conduct. Principal officers (including heads of state government agencies and general managers of councils) are required to report any matter that they reasonably suspect involves or may involve corrupt conduct. Ministers are also required to report either directly to the ICAC or via the agency's principal officer. The NSW Parliament can direct the ICAC to investigate an issue and the ICAC can identify matters for investigation itself.

The ICAC receives and registers all complaints, reports and NSW Electoral Commission referrals, makes an initial assessment and seeks further information as required. It then refers all matters within ICAC's jurisdiction to an Assessment Panel for a decision about how each matter should be dealt with.

The ICAC also analyses the nature and number of complaints and reports received to determine emerging trends and the need for specific education and training initiatives.

In assessing complaints, the ICAC keeps in mind its legal obligation to focus on serious and systemic corruption. If the ICAC decides to investigate it may use the powers it has under legislation to gather information.

Investigations are diverse in character and can range from simple to complex and embrace past and current activities. They can require the use of various covert and overt methods of investigation.

Strategies and techniques are determined case-by-case and, when appropriate, compulsory examinations and public inquiries are undertaken as part of the investigative process.

Following a public inquiry, the ICAC publishes a report to Parliament of the investigation. The report will generally include, where applicable:

  • recommendations for changes in systems and procedures to prevent future corrupt conduct
  • findings of serious corrupt conduct against the people investigated
  • recommendations that consideration be given to the taking of diciplinary or dismissal action
  • recommendations that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) be sought on prosecution of the people investigated.

Parliament's Presiding Officers will generally make this report available to the public.

Once a report is handed down, the ICAC monitors the implementation of any corruption prevention recommendations. The ICAC will also assist the Director of Public Prosecutions in preparing for any prosecutions.

More information on investigations

Preventing corruption and promoting public administration

(highlights updated October 2015 to reflect the Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment Act 2015)

The ICAC reduces corruption risks by ensuring that motivation to act corruptly is recognised and managed, that the opportunity to engage in corrupt behaviour is limited by the structures and systems of the organisation, that the risk of detection is heightened through supervision and reporting, and that the integrity and good repute of public administration is promoted. To achieve this, the ICAC provides:

  • expert advice and consultancy on corruption prevention measures including making recommendations on legal and other changes to close corruption loopholes revealed in investigations
  • encouragement to implement changes
  • community and public sector training and education
  • ongoing research into areas of corruption risk and effective approaches to prevention
  • information in the Preventing corruption section of this site, including information on developing corruption prevention policies and plans and on managing specific corruption risks
  • tip sheets, guides, toolkits‚ and other resources, available in the Publications about preventing corruption section of this site.

Given that research on corruption exposure and prevention has to date been limited, the ICAC conducts original research. For example, the ICAC conducts periodic research to examine the corruption risks and prevention strategies in NSW public sector organisations.

The ICAC also conducts periodic surveys to examine NSW public perceptions of corruption and of our role as an anti-corruption agency.

More information on preventing corruption

Training and education

The ICAC conducts training workshops, speaking engagements and educational events to minimise corruption in the NSW public sector.

The ICAC responds to requests and initiate activities in metropolitan, rural and regional areas, including an outreach program conducted twice a year.

The training workshops for public officials aim to develop knowledge and skills to recognise, prevent, detect and respond to corrupt conduct.

In conjunction with the Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), the ICAC delivers an executive short course, Strategic responses to corruption.

More information about the ICAC's current education and training offerings.