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ICAC recommends NSW public sector tighten screening practices to combat employment application fraud and corruption

Monday 26 February 2018

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) recommends that the NSW public sector adopt stronger employment screening practices to help combat employment application fraud, which if left undetected can ultimately allow other corrupt conduct to occur.

In a report released today, Strengthening employment screening practices in the NSW public sector, the ICAC refers to a number of its published investigation reports that examine the conduct to which undetected employment application fraud can lead. These include gaining improper financial benefits which, in one example (Operation Sonet), resulted in an individual with an undetected fraud conviction making a corrupt profit of $1.14 million after being appointed acting information and communication technology (ICT) manager and then overcharging for ICT project items.

The Commission’s report released today recommends that agencies adopt an integrated approach to address employment application fraud. These measures include designing and implementing a risk-based employment screening framework, assigning roles and responsibilities for employment screening, improving the quality of employment screening checks and screening non-permanent workers such as contingent hires.

The ICAC Chief Commissioner, the Hon Peter Hall QC, said the report notes that employment application fraud is common, and that between 20 and 30 per cent of job applications contain some form of false information.

“The detrimental effects that poor employment screening practices have can be very wide reaching, and put agencies at financial risk while impacting on the organisation’s ability to discharge its public service functions efficiently and effectively,” Chief Commissioner Hall said.

“The report provides solutions that will help NSW public sector agencies weed out these problems earlier in the process, before they become a corruption burden on the agency and the state. Furthermore, the ICAC recommends that employment screening should not just be a one-off aspect of the initial recruitment process, but should also be applied during the course of the individual’s tenure, for example, if an individual is to be promoted to a higher position within the agency.”

Under section 8(2A) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988, fraudulently obtaining or retaining employment or appointment as a public official can constitute corrupt conduct. Examples include candidates claiming degrees and qualifications that had never been awarded, falsifying work histories or work achievements, concealing a history of criminal or disciplinary activity and using false or misleading referees.

The report also notes that applicants who have engaged in employment application fraud, once they are able to secure a position, sometimes go on to engage in other forms of corrupt conduct. The report can be accessed from the ICAC website at www.icac.nsw.gov.au.

Link to full report

Contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801