The introduction of Cab Charge in the seventies was somewhat of a mini revolution of convenience in local business travel. You could attend meetings and functions by hailing a cab, without the bother of wondering if you have enough money to pay for it, or the burden of chasing down reimbursement.

All that was required was a magic slip that resembled a cheque. You filled it out, handed it over and on your merry way you went. The cheque-like slip has since disappeared and been replaced by cab charge cards and e-tickets. Their form however, does not alter the risks associated with these little bundles of convenience.

Cab charges have currency. They are used to pay for a service (local travel) that everybody requires or desires at some point, and as a result they are susceptible to misuse. Public authorities must have clear policies on how cab charges can be used, in addition to good governance measures to assure that they are not being misused.

What might cause you to question the legitimacy of a cab charge? Perhaps the time on the cab charge raises suspicion, or the person using the cab charge is on leave at the time the charge was incurred, or there is excessive use of cab charges. It might turn out that your suspicions are unfounded and that cab charges are being used in a legitimate way, in accordance with your policy. However, asking the question is important.

Public officers who use cab charges need to understand that if they are misusing them that they may be committing a criminal offence which could be assessed as corruption under the ICAC Act.

This article was published in Issue 3 - November 2015 of ICAC's newsletter.