ICAC conducts state-wide council talks to share lessons from Operation Jarek investigation

Tuesday 27 November 2012

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is conducting talks to councils across NSW over the coming months following its Operation Jarek investigation that found 41 people engaged in corrupt conduct, mostly in relation to supplying or receiving secret benefits to ensure orders would continue to be placed with the supply companies involved.

Hosting a community leaders breakfast in Albury as part of the Commission's Riverina and Murray rural and regional outreach program, ICAC Executive Director Corruption Prevention Dr Robert Waldersee said there were many lessons to be learned from the Operation Jarek experience.

"Operation Jarek, when considered alongside similar investigations in Western Australia and Victoria, showed a pervasive and systemic willingness for public servants to secretly accept gifts across Australia," Dr Waldersee said.

"This investigation revealed that the wasteful and loosely managed procurement and inventory systems in some councils not only cost taxpayers through inefficiency, but also created opportunity for corruption.

"The ICAC has begun to speak to local government authorities across the state via their regional organisations of councils to reinforce the need to tightly control operations, and to make sure suppliers understand the consequences of giving gifts to public servants. Further, one of the workshops on offer this week involves corruption prevention in procurement which aims to equip managers and staff with the tools to better handle this contentious area," Dr Waldersee said.

Other outreach activities held in the area this week include workshops and training on managing protected disclosures (conducted by the NSW Ombudsman's Office), corruption prevention for managers and a fact-finder workshop which will help agencies to conduct their own internal investigations.

Agencies attending the outreach activities include the Department of Primary Industries, Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Albury City Council, Murray Shire Council, Murrumbidgee Local Health District, Wagga Wagga City Council, Office of Environment and Heritage, Greater Hume Shire Council, Leeton Shire Council, Deniliquin Council and Corrective Services NSW.

The ICAC outreach program has proved highly successful since its inception in 2001. Previous visits have included the Central Coast, the Illawarra, the Central West, the Hunter, the Far West, the South East and New England. The Commission last visited the Riverina in 2008, but this is the first time it has based a visit in Albury.

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799/0417 467 801
                        ICAC Communications Officer, Ellie Prodromou, 02 8281 5913