The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) released its 2017-2018 annual report this month, giving an insight into what was a very busy year for ICAC.

In this week's edition of Government Bulletin, we have summarised key parts of the annual report.

Structure of ICAC

ICAC underwent major structural changes following the commencement of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Amendment Act 2016 (the Amending Act) on 7 August 2017.

Most significantly, the single-Commissioner model was replaced with two new part-time Commissioners and a Chief Commissioner. In addition, the Amending Act enabled the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in charge of the day-to-day management of ICAC. A CEO was appointed and commenced on 2 July 2018. For further details about charges resulting from the Amending Act, please see our previous article here.

Assessment of matters

ICAC reported receiving and managing a total of 2,751 matters in the 2017-2018 reporting period. This was an 11 per cent increase from the previous year. Most of the complaints to ICAC came from members of the public (46 per cent), followed by from principal officers of NSW public sector authorities and ministers (23 per cent).

Corruption prevention

ICAC has a Corruption Prevention Division that deals with examining laws, practices and processes that may encourage corrupt conduct and undertaking corruption prevention projects.

An area of focus for corruption prevention in the 2017-2018 year was employment application fraud i.e. targeting falsehoods in job applications. To combat this, ICAC released 'Strengthening employment screening practices in the NSW public sector,' a publication informing employers about screening methods to help prevent fraud.

During the reporting period, ICAC also delivered 126 corruption prevention workshops to over 2,300 attendees and completed 122 speaking engagements to approximately 4,800 attendees.

Other issues in the annual report

The annual report also outlined the various methods by which ICAC is held accountable both internally and externally and the organisations to which it must account, and provided an update on ICAC's staffing and financial position for the year ending 30 June 2018.

Looking forward

The Chief Commissioner stated that corruption is not stagnant and like other crimes, evolves over time. The Chief Commissioner identified that a major challenge is to keep up with and be ahead of developing trends and forms of corrupt activities. In terms of this, ICAC has requested its Corruption Prevention Division complete a specialist project each year dealing with a significant area of concern to the public. It has also established a proactive intelligence and research unit to develop systems and processes to identify corrupt activity. The findings from the research unit are to be provided to and used by the Corruption Prevention Unit and will also guide ICAC on its allocations of resources.

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.