Strong organisational design the key today to preventing corruption, says ICAC

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Government organisations need to focus on how they design and manage the workplace rather than relying solely on traditional tools to prevent corruption, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said today.

Speaking to a group of community leaders in Kingscliff on the NSW north coast this morning, the Commission's Executive Director of Corruption Prevention, Dr Robert Waldersee, said that corruption today is often a sign of underlying weaknesses in the design and management of organisations.

"The operating environment within which corruption occurs has become increasingly challenging, as government has continued to shift from delivering its own standardised services to contracted or flexible service delivery through the private sector," Dr Waldersee said.

Dr Waldersee noted that weakness in the operating environment has been a common thread in several ICAC investigations, particularly those that have uncovered corruption in procurement.

"In matters such as these, poor record-keeping, the form of contracting, process design, reporting arrangements, outsourcing decisions, management competence, culture and oversight arrangements all contribute to corruption in the organisation," Dr Waldersee said.

Over time, the ICAC has developed many approaches to minimising corrupt conduct. Commission surveys of the corruption controls of public sector agencies have shown an increase in the adoption of basic control mechanisms to the point that most of the prevention tools have been adopted by agencies.

"Increasingly, agencies need to look beyond codes of conduct, controls on gifts, and basic policies and procedures to successfully combat corruption," Dr Waldersee said. "While these tools will always play a central role in control of corruption, increasingly it is the workplace itself that provides the key to control."

"That includes the shared values of the staff, management competence and accountability, job design, incentives, and reporting lines" Dr Waldersee said.

The ICAC is visiting the north coast this week as part of its rural and regional outreach program to regional NSW. Aside from this morning's event in Kingscliff, the visit will include workshops to be held in Lismore over the next few days for state and local government agencies to increase awareness about corruption risks and learn the latest ways to minimise the occurrence of corrupt conduct.

Media enquiries: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801