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High workloads and achievements for ICAC in 2007-08

Thursday 30 October 2008

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has reported several high achievements in 2007-08 despite increased workloads, including a 10% improvement in finalisation times although there was a 26% increase in the number of matters received during the year.

"There are several results this year that show that the ICAC continues to be a real force in fighting and preventing corruption in this State," the ICAC Commissioner, the Hon Jerrold Cripps QC, says in the Commission's Annual Report 2007-2008. The Commission held substantially more public inquiries in 2007-08 than in 2006-07, with 11 conducted in total over 51 days, compared with four public inquiries conducted over 24 days in the previous year. It also published seven investigation reports.

During 2007-08, the Commission received and assessed 2,702 matters (an increase of more than 550 on the previous year), including 579 reports from public sector agencies (compared with 522 in 2006-07). This also included a substantial increase in the number of allegations received from members of the public, up by more than 260 from 680 in 2006-07 to 946 in 2007-08.

As in previous years, local government was the most frequently represented government sector for allegations from the public, with 41% of complaints relating to this area, most of which related to building and development applications and rezonings. The Commission's experience suggests that this high result in comparison to other sectors is due to the high level of people's interaction with local government, and the personal interest many take in its decisions.

Reports from public sector principals, which must be made under section 11 of the ICAC Act when agencies suspect corrupt conduct, also related mainly to the local government sector (30%). The most common type of alleged corrupt conduct was misuse/theft of resources by a public official.

The Commission also increased the number of matters referred to public sector agencies to investigate and report back by 50%, in line with the ICAC's focus on getting agencies to take greater responsibility for their own corruption issues.

The ICAC made corrupt conduct findings against 51 people in 2007-08, compared with 17 in the previous year, and referred 23 people to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration of prosecution proceedings, which is a 44% increase on 2006-07.

"The Commission also continued to fulfil its equally important role of providing education and advice to help state and local government agencies in NSW to minimise corrupt conduct," Commissioner Cripps said. "A major highlight of our corruption prevention was hosting the inaugural Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference in October 2007. The conference brought together 34 national and international experts to deliver cutting-edge information about anti-corruption work to more than 500 delegates."

Other corruption prevention and education highlights in 2007-08 for the Commission include delivering 57 corruption prevention training sessions, which is a 46% increase on the previous year, and continuing the regional outreach program with visits to the Hunter and Riverina areas.

The ICAC responded to 236 corruption prevention advice requests, included 57 corruption prevention recommendations in its investigation reports, and published six corruption prevention and research publications including its report on Corruption risks in NSW development approval processes. Through the 24 recommendations in this publication, the Commission made a significant contribution to planning governance in NSW and the Government has adopted its key recommendations.

ICAC Annual Report 2007-2008