What is a NSW public official or authority?

For conduct to be considered corrupt under the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 ("the ICAC Act") it must involve or affect a NSW public official or public authority.

What is a public official?

A public official is defined in section 3 of the ICAC Act as an individual having public official functions or acting in a public official capacity.

People working in the Parliament, government departments, statutory authorities and local councils in NSW, as well as NSW magistrates, judges, local councillors and members of Parliament are all public officials.

The ICAC cannot generally examine the conduct of NSW police officers or officers of the NSW Crime Commission. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission is responsible for investigating allegations of corruption involving NSW Police and the NSW Crime Commission. The ICAC retains jurisdiction to investigate corruption by police officers when it also involves other public officials who are not police.

In most cases, the ICAC has no jurisdiction over the federal government or its officers, interstate or foreign matters, or the conduct of private sector companies or individuals except when these may corruptly affect the way NSW public officials carry out their duties.

Some examples of corrupt conduct involving private citizens and organisations are:

  • a private company offers a bribe to a NSW public official involved in a tender process to induce the official to favour their company over others 
  • a private individual threatens a NSW public official not to report breaches of legislation.

What is a public authority?

A public authority is defined in section 3 of the ICAC Act and can include:

  • a government agency, administrative office or teaching service
  • a statutory body representing the Crown 
  • a local government authority
  • a body required to keep certain accounts under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983, or over which the Auditor-General has powers of audit.

In many cases it is obvious whether a particular body falls within the definition. But there is a wide range of agencies which are also public authorities, including state owned corporations, government trading enterprises, NSW universities and local councils.

The ICAC is concerned specifically with the NSW public sector - not Commonwealth authorities or those of other states.

Full definitions of a NSW public official and NSW public authority can be found in section 3 of the ICAC Act.