Recent changes to the ICAC Act have amended the definition of corruption and misconduct in public administration. The obligations governing the reporting of those matters has also changed.
The directions and guidelines prepared by the Director of the Office for Public Integrity require all public officers, public authorities and inquiry agencies, with some exceptions, to report to that Office any matter they reasonably suspect involves corruption in public administration.
Corruption involves certain criminal offences, including:
- Bribery or corruption of public officers
- Threats or reprisals against public officers
- Abuse of public office
- Offences relating to appointment to public office
- Offences against the Public Sector (Honesty and Accountability Act) 1995, the Public Corporations Act 1993 and the Lobbyists Act 2015
The Ombudsman’s directions and guidelines encourage all public officers and public authorities to report to the Ombudsman any matter they reasonably suspect involves misconduct or maladministration in public administration (with some exceptions).
Misconduct involves a public officer, while acting in their capacity as a public officer, intentionally and seriously breaching the code of conduct by which they are bound.
Maladministration involves the mismanagement of public money, resources or functions and is often the product of poor governance or negligence.
Despite these changes, public officers must still expected to conduct themselves with integrity. Improper conduct which falls short of raising a potential issue of corruption, misconduct or maladministration in public administration should still be reported, either internally or to another appropriate agency, and addressed accordingly.