Minor misconduct

Our focus | Overseeing minor misconduct to foster integrity across the sectors

Our functions relating to the oversight of the minor misconduct of public officers include receiving and assessing notifications and reports, overseeing investigations of authorities and conducting our own investigations. 

Profile

In 2016/17, we received 534 minor misconduct matters, comprising 969 allegations. Of these, 85 matters were referred from the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC). A breakdown of these matters is provided in the following graphic. In comparison to 2015/16, there has been an increase in the proportion of minor misconduct matters reported by individuals by 13 percentage points.

Figure XX

Action

Upon receipt of a matter, we carry out an initial assessment to determine the most appropriate course of action. On average, we handle minor misconduct matters in 20 days. This includes the time taken to assess the matter, determine and carry out any relevant action, and where appropriate, review action taken on matters by public authorities. This does not include the time taken by authorities to investigate matters.

We have a number of options available to progress or finalise a matter. In 2016/17, of the 534 matters received, the Commission took no action in relation to 175 matters as they did not meet the definition of minor misconduct, or had otherwise been dealt with appropriately at the time of receipt.

Outcome 

In 2016/17, the Commission finalised 534 matters containing 879 allegations. These matters were received both during 2016/17 and 2015/16. Coincidentally, this is the same number as the total number of matters received during 2016/17.

Of the 879 allegations finalised, 304 were substantiated. The graphic provides a breakdown of the outcomes in relation to these allegations.

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Ethical codes and standards

The Commissioner monitors alleged breaches of ethical codes and standards and reports them to Parliament in the State of the sectors report. This monitoring and reporting role allows us to identify trends relating to the conduct of public officers to inform our misconduct prevention and education role.

An overview of breach of standards claims and matters of referral considered by the Commission in 2016/17 are detailed in this section.

Breach of standards claims

Individuals who believe they have been adversely affected by an agency’s decisions that contravenes a human resource standard may make a claim under the Public Sector Management (Breaches of Public Sector Standards) Regulations 2005. There were 90 breach of standards claims completed by the Commission in 2016/17, compared with 88 in 2015/16. Of the 90 claims considered, no claims were substantiated. 

Matters of referral

We receive unsolicited complaints, letters of concern and referrals about a range of matters involving public sector integrity, management and administration—collectively called 'matters of referral'. In 2016/17, 33 matters of referral were completed by the Commission, compared with 75 in 2015/16. 

Complexity of oversight matters completed in 2016/17

The proportion of oversight matters (excluding minor misconduct) resolved within target timeframes is used as an efficiency indicator for our oversight function. 

The table below details the number of cases in 2016/17 that fell into each category and the success rate for completing those matters within the target timeframe. Overall, percentage completion of oversight matters within timeframe has slightly decreased since the last reporting period.

Oversight matters completed within timeframe (%)

Category

2016/17

2015/16

Simple (30 days)

100%

85%

Routine (50 days)

91%

93%

Complex (120 days)

91%

96%

Totals

91%

93%

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Public interest disclosure

The PID Act encourages individuals to speak up about wrongdoing in public authorities by providing protections for those making disclosures and those who are the subject of disclosures. 

In 2016/17, we received four public interest disclosure matters, which were actioned and finalised as required by the PID Act.

Lobbyists

The Integrity (Lobbyists) Act 2016 (IL Act) aims to enhance the transparency of dealings between lobbyists and government representatives, by prohibiting individuals or firms from lobbying on behalf of third parties unless they have been accepted on the Register of Lobbyists. 

As at 30 June 2017, there were 113 registrants on the Register of Lobbyists and 251 listed lobbyists. During the reporting period, we assessed 96 registration applications.

In 2016/17, Commissioner’s Instruction 16 – Government representatives contact with registrants and lobbyists was released, which sets out the minimum obligations of government representatives when dealing with lobbyists.

The Commission also issued a Code of conduct for lobbyists which sets out the appropriate accountability and standards of conduct to which a lobbyist must adhere. 

To assist government officers and lobbyists to understand their obligations under the IL Act, we delivered training to 47 participants through our Integrity (lobbyists) Act 2016 familiarisation forums. 

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Page last updated 14 September 2017