Department of Education and Training – use of TAFE funds to pay for work on a dog kennel complex (Operation Corsair)

Year: 2010 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated whether Garrie Cooper, a head carpentry teacher employed by the NSW Department of Education and Training at the Miller College of TAFE, and others engaged in corrupt conduct by misusing TAFE resources for their personal gain.

In its report on this investigation, which was made public on 10 June 2010, the ICAC made findings of corrupt conduct against Mr Cooper and three self-employed tradesmen, Anthony Fox, Keith Melia and Khai Van Tran. The ICAC has stated its opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions be sought with respect to the prosecution of Mr Cooper for specified offences and has made a total of eight corruption prevention recommendations to minimise or prevent similar conduct occurring in the future.

Findings of corrupt conduct

The ICAC has made findings that Garrie Cooper, Mark Wiseman, Anthony Fox, Keith Melia and Khai Van Tran engaged in corrupt conduct in relation to TAFE funds being used to fund private construction work and that Mr Cooper and Mr Wiseman engaged in corrupt conduct in relation to the obtaining of dummy quotes.


Recommendations for prosecutions

The Commission must seek the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on whether any prosecution should be commenced. The DPP determines whether any criminal charges can be laid, and conducts all prosecutions. The Commission provides information on this website in relation to the status of prosecution recommendations and outcomes as advised by the DPP. The progress of matters is generally within the hands of the DPP. Accordingly, the Commission does not directly notify persons affected of advice received from the DPP or the progress of their matters generally.

The ICAC is of the opinion that the advice of the DPP should be sought with respect to the prosecution of Garrie Cooper for offences of concurring in the publishing of a false statement for the purpose of obtaining a benefit contrary to section 178BB of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and offences of giving false or misleading evidence to the Commission contrary to section 87(1) of the ICAC Act. The DPP's advice not to proceed has been accepted by the Commission.

Recommendations for disciplinary action

Garrie Cooper resigned from TAFE during the ICAC's investigation. Mark Wiseman has been disciplined by TAFE in relation to his approval of Keith Melia's invoices. The ICAC therefore makes no recommendations in relation to disciplinary action.

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The ICAC has made the following eight corruption prevention recommendations to the Department of Education and Training to minimise or prevent similar conduct occurring in the
future:

Recommendation 1

That the South Western Sydney Institute, Technical and Further Education (SWSI TAFE) introduces a system whereby Finance Staff are required to record and report breaches of procurement policy to the AssociateDirector, Business and Services.

Recommendation 2

That SWSI TAFE develops a protocol whereby staff members who breach financial policies on more than one occasion in a financial year have their financial delegation removed for 12 months.

Recommendation 3

That TAFE conducts an audit of pre-apprenticeship programs operating in its other colleges and institutes to ensure the risks identified in this report are addressed.

Recommendation 4

That SWSI TAFE produces financial reports at predetermined milestones during each pre-apprenticeship project and provides these to the Faculty Director, Building and Construction.

Recommendation 5

That TAFE benchmarks pre-apprenticeship projects between colleges and also between institutes to review performance and ensure value for money is being obtained.

Recommendation 6

That SWSI TAFE ensures that the person performing the functions of the pre-apprenticeship coordinator receives training in procurement as soon as practicable after commencement.

Recommendation 7

That TAFE undertakes an audit of all teaching positions involved in procurement and where appropriate ensures:
a. that basic training in procurement is provided, and
b. that duties are segregated so that teaching staff are not exercising end-to-end control, with approval being obtained outside their faculty.

Recommendation 8

That SWSI TAFE provides information and training to frontline staff on the provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act 1994 (NSW).

Implementation Plans

The implementation plan posted below has been provided by the South Western Sydney Institute, Technical and Further Education (SWSI TAFE) in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Its appearance here is for information only and does not constitute the approval or endorsement of the plan by the Commission. 

South Western Sydney Institute, Technical and Further Education - Implementation Plan

Progress report

The progress report posted below has been provided by the South Western Sydney Institute, Technical and Further Education (SWSI TAFE) in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Its appearance here is for information only and does not constitute the approval or endorsement of the plan by the Commission. 

South Western Sydney Institute Technical and Further Education - Progress Report

Final progress report

The final progress report posted below has been provided by the South Western Sydney Institute, Technical and Further Education (SWSI TAFE) in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Its appearance here is for information only and does not constitute the approval or endorsement of the plan by the Commission.

South Western Sydney Institute Technical and Further Education - Final Report

Media Releases Witness

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Download the Witness List (PDF)

Transcripts

View all transcripts associated with this investigation. The Commission makes every effort to post the daily transcripts of its public inquiries on its website by 8:00 pm each day when possible. If the Commission sits later than 4:00 pm, the daily transcripts, particularly the afternoon session, may not be available until the next working day.

 

Exhibits Public notices