In the late 1980s community concern about integrity in the NSW public sector reached new heights due to exposure of corruption among government ministers, within the judiciary and at senior levels of the police force.

Responding to this concern, the then NSW Opposition pledged to establish an anti-corruption agency with powers similar to that of a royal commission. They fulfilled the pledge as the NSW Government in July 1988 when the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988‚ was passed following extensive parliamentary debate. The Independent Commission Against Corruption was then established in March 1989 as an independent organisation monitored by a parliamentary committee. The Premier told Parliament that the measure of the ICAC's success would be the enhancement of integrity and the restoration of community confidence in public administration.

The Commissioner of the ICAC is appointed for a term of five years and must be qualified for appointment to the NSW Supreme Court. To date, the Commissioners have been/are:

 

 

Mr Ian Temby QC 13 March 1989 to 12 March 1994
The Hon Barry O'Keefe AM QC 14 November 1994 to 13 November 1999
Ms Irene Moss AO 14 November 1999 to 13 November 2004
The Hon Jerrold Cripps QC 14 November 2004 to 13 November 2009
The Hon David Ipp AO QC 14 November 2009 to 24 January 2014
The Hon Megan Latham 28 January 2014 (term expires January 2019)