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Information integrity

One of the key components of good decision-making is information integrity. It is not possible for senior managers to have hands-on understanding of all available information and, consequently, they need to be able to place some reliance on the information and recommendations put to them. Unfortunately, corruption can occur when decision-makers fail to identify false or misleading information, or worse, if approvals are rubber-stamped without being checked at all.

It is essential, therefore, to have measures in place that ensure that the information used to make decisions has integrity in the broadest sense of the word. Informed decision-making requires that information is from a reliable source, accurate, understandable, timely, intact, balanced and sufficient. Many different types of corrupt conduct can result where information integrity is poor.

For example, in many ICAC investigations, the conduct investigated hinged on the ability of the corrupt individual to provide false or misleading information about things such as the procurement need, costs, market conditions, supply options, outcome of inspections, need for variations, the delivery of goods or the performance of services without being challenged.

Authorised decision-makers should consider questions such as:

  • What information is missing (corrupt conduct can be concealed by omitting information that would normally be present)?
  • Is there artificial urgency (corrupt individuals may take steps to reduce the amount of time available to the decision-maker or otherwise reduce the available options)?
  • Is the information consistent with policy, precedent and agency practice?
  • Could the person(s) providing the information have any form of self-interest in the outcome?
  • Have plausible reasons been given for the proposed course of action (corrupt individuals tend to avoid giving reasons for their conduct)?
  • Is the information from a single source or multiple sources?
  • Are both the pros and cons of the proposed course of action (or alternative courses of action) set out?
  • If the information involves spending funds, is the amount just below a relevant delegation threshold? Or could the process have been contrived to avoid a particular authoriser?
  • Is the decision-maker being asked to base the decision on technical or complex information that is difficult to understand?
  • Could system-generated information be vulnerable to manipulation?
  • Is the proposed course of action supported by other parties, such as subject matter experts, legal counsel or a peer-review process?