NSW Department of Education and Training – allegations of corrupt conduct concerning former project manager (Operation Barcoo)

Year: 2012 Status: Completed

The ICAC investigated an allegation that David Johnson, while employed as a Project Manager with the then Department of Education and Training (the DET), between 1 March 2008 and 30 April 2009, engaged in corrupt conduct by improperly causing officers of the DET to appoint persons employed by or otherwise connected with Ogawie Pty Limited (Ogawie), a company operated by Mr Johnson, in order to benefit financially from those appointments.

Mr Johnson was also alleged to have engaged in corrupt conduct through falsely representing to officers of the DET that certain persons had provided services to the DET when, at Mr Johnson's direction, they had provided services to Ogawie, in order to benefit financially from the provision of those services, and by improperly causing officers of the DET to approve and pay for the provision of information technology services by Catalina IT (Catalina), an information technology company, in order to benefit financially from the payments to Catalina.

In its report on the investigation, made public on 18 January 2012, the Commission makes corrupt conduct findings against Mr Johnson. The Commission is of the opinion that the advice of the director of public prosecution with respect to the prosecution of Mr Johnson for specified offences. The Commission has made seven corruption prevention recommendations to the now Department of Education and Communities to help the department address outstanding issues.

Findings of corrupt conduct

The Commission has found that David Johnson engaged in corrupt conduct by:

  • preparing and presenting contractor assessment forms containing false representations to the then Department of Education and Training to obtain approval to engage five people associated with Mr Johnson's own private company, Ogawie Pty Ltd, as contractors so that he could benefit financially from those appointments

  • falsely representing that two of those Ogawie contractors had performed services for, and on behalf of, the department, when they had not, so he could benefit financially

  • falsely representing that another IT company, Catalina IT, was an approved contractor and by purporting to authorise payment of two invoices received from the company so he could benefit financially from its engagement to provide services.

 

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 David Johnson for offences of obtaining money by false or misleading statements contrary to section 178BB of the Crimes Act 1900 in relation to:

  • misrepresentations contained in the contractor agreement and selection forms for each of the five Ogawie contractors

  • misrepresentations contained in two submissions in respect of Catalina IT and the purported authorisation of payment of two invoices

  • misrepresentations contained in the timesheets completed by two contractors.

Mr Johnson pleaded guilty and was convicted of two counts of obtaining money by deception under section 178BA of the Crimes Act and two counts of making a false statement to obtain money under section 178BB of the Crimes Act. The total benefit obtained was about $437,000. Two further counts under section 178BB of the Crimes Act were taken into account on sentence. On 20 January 2014, Mr Johnson was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of 11 months. His sentence is to be served as home detention.

On 26 June 2014, the DPP's appeal against sentence on the grounds of inadequacy was allowed by the Sydney District Court and the sentence of home detention set aside. Mr Johnson was sentenced to full-time imprisonment for 3 years and 3 months with a non-parole period of 1 year and 11 months. The sentence dates from the commencement of the previous home detention sentence.

 

Recommendations for disciplinary action

David Johnson is no longer a public official. It is therefore not necessary to make any recommendation in relation to the taking of disciplinary or dismissal action.

 

Recommendations for corruption prevention

The Commission has made seven corruption prevention recommendations to the Department of Education and Communities as follows:

Recommendation 1

That the Information Technology Directorate (ITD), responsible for the provision of information technology (IT) to the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC), reviews its use of contract staff when it exceeds its predetermined ratio of contract staff to permanent staff. The review should focus on:

  • whether the engagement of contract staff – as opposed to permanent employees – is justifiable

  • the continuing need for individual contractors to be retained

Recommendation 2

That the ITD takes measures to verify the arrangements surrounding the contracting of individual personnel, including:

  • personnel pay rates

  • how contracted personnel were sourced

  • to whom personnel are contracted.

The ITD should also take steps to communicate these arrangements to the relevant staff involved in the recruitment and engagement of contractors.

Recommendation 3

That the ITD takes measures to ensure that candidates it has sourced have the requisite skills for the position. These steps could include:

  • requiring candidate resumes to be retained, verified and provided to staff involved in selecting contract personnel

  • ensuring that selection panel reports for contract personnel address the selection criteria for the position.

Recommendation 4

That the ITD ensures periodic audits of compliance with its recruitment procedures are conducted.

Recommendation 5

That the ITD requires contractors (and subcontractors) who need to access confidential information, including intellectual property, to sign agreements placing appropriate limitations on the use of this information. The ITD should also take measures to ensure that any such limitations are clearly communicated.

Recommendation 6

That the ITD places obligations on contractors to disclose any subcontracting arrangements that relate to the performance of their contracts.

Recommendation 7

That the ITD sends briefs to vendors detailing the required deliverables arising from an engagement.

 

Implementation Plans

The implementation plan posted below has been provided by the NSW Department of Education and Communities 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.

Implementation plan

 

Progress report

The progress report posted below has been provided by the NSW Department of Education and Communities 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 report by the Commission.

12 month progress report

 

 

Media Releases Witness

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. 

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