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Post-separation employment

Post-separation employment refers to a public official resigning and obtaining subsequent employment outside government; that is, the job they get after they “separate” from the public service.

The corruption concern is the need to ensure that public officials who are preparing to leave, or thinking of leaving public employment continue to make decisions in the public interest and do not allow their decisions to be influenced by an emerging private interest connected to future employment. Former officials who have already moved out of the sector may also seek to improperly use contacts or confidential information gained during their public employment in their new position.

Ex-public official tries to use inside information for new consultancy

A former officer from a council's health and sanitation department established his own commercial waste facility shortly after leaving his council position. His new business competed directly with council. During social calls to his former colleagues, the former officer requested information about any new or upcoming council tenders for waste disposal. These officers informed the general manager about the contact and requests from their former colleague. The council learned that this ex-employee had also approached one of the council's long-term clients indicating that he knew the price of the client's contract with council and offered services at a lower price.

In response, the council provided guidance to staff on dealing with former employees and the corruption risks arising from post-separation employment.

Source: Complaint provided to the ICAC.

For the most part, former public officials have no restrictions imposed on the type of employment activities they can engage in after they leave the public sector, and many post-separation employment problems only emerge after the public official has left the public sector.

There is a greater risk of corruption if the former public official’s post-separation employment involves contact with their former agency and colleagues, for example:

  • when regulators go to work in an industry that they once regulated

  • an adviser or chief executive who resigns from the public service commences work in the private sector in the area of his or her expertise

  • a former government minister obtains work as a political lobbyist.

Common corruption risks around pre-separation conduct and post-separation employment include:

  • a current public official favouring a current supplier, who is also a potential future employer, to obtain an advantage for a future job

  • an ex-public official attempting to influence former colleagues to make decisions that favour their new employer

  • an ex-public official establishing their own business in the same field as the public agency and approaching the agency's clients for business, using confidential information gained from the agency

  • an ex-public official becoming a lobbyist for a private organisation or specialist group and trying to gain confidential information or favourable treatment from former colleagues  

  • a current public official stealing information, intellectual property, or other resources to develop their own business and/or to enhance employment prospects with other companies once they leave the public sector.

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