Crime and Corruption Commission's audit plan – a 'heads-up' for government entities
The use of fuel by local council employees is one area under the microscope in a new audit program conducted by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC). The CCC is the independent statutory body responsible for combatting and investigating major crime and corruption in the Queensland public sector.
On 9 August 2021, the CCC released its biennial publication, Corruption Audit Plan – 2021-2023 (Audit Plan). The Audit Plan outlines the CCC's program of audits between 2021 and 2023 and flags the following key areas the anti-corruption body will focus on:
- misuse of public resources
- recruitment – the selection process and employment screening
- complaint management process.
Misuse of public resources
This audit has already commenced, with completion expected by the end of 2021. Bundaberg Regional, Ipswich City and Whitsunday Regional councils are in the spotlight while the State Government Departments of Education, Police and Environment and Science are also being audited.
The term 'public resources' covers all forms of ratepayer or taxpayer-funded resources, but the plan specifically states that the audit uses "data analytics to detect fuel consumption fraud in local councils".
Nepotism and undue influence in council and state government selection processes will be audited in 2022, with Fraser Coast and Cassowary Coast Regional councils, along with the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water, to be looked at by the Commission.
The plan states that "Employing people, including family members, without a genuine merit-based process may affect productivity, lead to inefficient use of limited resources, and create a poor workplace culture."
The audit will also examine employment screening processes in the relevant agencies.
Complaint management practices
This audit is scheduled for between September 2022 and March 2023 and will examine both workplace complaints and investigations, along with the appropriateness of disciplinary decisions. The agencies to be audited have yet to be decided.
The Audit Plan lists various government departments, councils, government-owned corporations, universities and statutory authorities as specific entities that may be audited or are currently being audited in relation to specific focus areas.
However, the scope of the Audit Plan is not limited to the named entities. The CCC will also conduct an annual "dynamic prevention project", which will be determined by the CCC as the need arises.
At the conclusion of an audit, the CCC may produce summary reports that outline the audit's findings and recommendations. You can access the CCC's public reports on previous audits on their website ( 2016 – 2017, 2017 – 2019, 2019 – 2021).
The summary audit reports can assist government entities in preparing for upcoming audits as part of the Audit Plan. For example, entities that may be audited as part of the recruitment audit should refer to the CCC's previous summary report regarding corrupt conduct in recruitment and selection activities, released following an audit in 2017.
The CCC's previous focus areas include research fraud, timesheet and leave fraud, local government procurement, assessments of corrupt conduct and gifts and payments from industry.
Tips for government entities
The Audit Plan should put government entities on notice regarding the CCC's focus areas for the next two years.
Named entities must ensure that their internal policies and procedures are robust and are being followed, particularly in relation to the focus areas. Notwithstanding this, the inclusion of the annual dynamic prevention project in the Audit Plan means that all government entities could be audited and reinforces the importance of maintaining practical and up-to-date procedures.
Holding Redlich are experts in public service law. If you have any questions or need assistance in preparing for an audit, please get in touch with us.
This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.