The ICAC Act confers significant powers and discretion on the Commissioner and ICAC staff. Given these extensive powers, it is important that there is a comprehensive accountability framework in place to ensure the ICAC's powers are not abused and that it meets its legislative responsibilities.
The ICAC is primarily accountable through the:
- NSW Parliament's Committee on the ICAC‚
A committee with members from both houses of the NSW Parliament. This committee monitors the ICAC's performance of its functions and reports.
- Inspector of the ICAC
The Inspector oversees the ICAC's use of investigative powers, investigates complaints against ICAC employees and monitors compliance with the law. The Inspector also monitors delays in investigations and any unreasonable invasions of privacy.
The ICAC has an internal accountability system including strict requirements on the exercise of its powers. In addition, an internal committee oversees investigations.
Other accountability mechanisms
- The ICAC Commissioner's term is for five years and is non-renewable.
- The ICAC is accountable to NSW Treasury in relation to funding and expenditure.
- NSW privacy laws apply (operational matters are exempted).
- FOI legislation applies (operational matters are exempted).
External scrutiny of covert powers
To ensure compliance with statutory requirements, the Ombudsman inspects ICAC records of telephone intercepts, controlled operations and surveillance devices. The ICAC reports on its use of surveillance devices to the Attorney-General of New South Wales. Requirements under the Law Enforcement and National Security (Assumed Identities) Act are reported in the annual report.
The Supreme Court has both an inherent and statutory jurisdiction to supervise the functioning of administrative tribunals such as the ICAC to ensure such tribunals act according to law. It is a general but limited jurisdiction.