Integrity checking in misconduct oversight areas

Public authorities have responsibility for managing and notifying allegations of serious and minor misconduct under the Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Act 2003 (CCM Act). Some have a standalone unit to manage and investigate these matters. Others may engage external contractors to conduct investigations of alleged misconduct on their behalf. 

All public officers, which includes Chief Executive Officers—who oversee, manage or investigate allegations of misconduct—should have a high level of integrity and appropriate capability to carry out these important roles. 

This evaluation assessed policy and procedures for employment screening, including integrity checking, in misconduct oversight areas in a sample of eight authorities.

The evaluation follows other work of the Commission related to this subject:

  • In 2013, an examination of integrity checking controls in recruitment and employee induction processes, particularly for ‘positions of trust’. 
  • In 2016, an evaluation of arrangements to manage misconduct and make notifications to the Commission of allegations of minor misconduct. 

Observations and suggestions for improvement

The evaluation provided the Commission with detailed information on integrity checking in authorities and identified recommendations for improvements to authorities’ integrity checking policy and practice. These observations are particularly pertinent in relation to all positions of trust.

1. Risk management and policy framework

Of the seven authorities with a risk management framework, only three referred to employment screening. Seven authorities in the evaluation had a policy, either standalone or incorporated into other policies, which described employment screening. 

Risk management frameworks should refer to employment screening, and a policy and/or procedure should describe the authorities’ position for effective employment screening.

2. Appropriate integrity checks 

Checks implemented by authorities at pre-employment were considered appropriate to the business context of the authority. Informed consent is a vital part of the screening process, and seven authorities either referred to the need for the informed consent of the applicant in their policy or procedure, or reflected this in other documents. 

Policies and procedures should state that screening is conducted with the informed consent of the applicant, identify requirements for full and honest disclosure, and require screening to be completed prior to employment—preferably before an offer of employment and prior to completion of probation.

3. Integrity checks during the period of employment 

It is important for authorities to assure themselves of the ongoing integrity of employees through their employment tenure.

Authorities should consider and implement, particularly in high risk areas, appropriate measures to monitor the ongoing integrity of employees. These include requiring honest and full disclosure as a condition of ongoing employment (e.g. disclosure of criminal convictions) and requiring re-screening upon promotion or change of employment circumstances.

4. Decision making

Decisions made on information collected in relation to employment screening should be fair; consistent; unbiased; transparent; free from nepotism and favouritism; and job related. Policies and procedures should include a decision-making process on outcomes of applications for screening and provide for a process of appeal in the case of unfavourable decisions.

5. Information management

Employment screening involves the collection of confidential and sensitive information about a prospective or current employee. This information must be managed in accordance with legislation, such as the State Records Act 2000, and policy. 

Policies and procedures should provide guidance on how information will be managed through the screening process and should state that applicants must be advised of how the screening information will be stored, used and to whom it may be disclosed.

6. Capability of those who manage misconduct allegations

All employees who have a role in managing or conducting misconduct investigations should have a high level of capability in this type of work. The capability aspect of managing or investigating misconduct allegations was well covered in job description forms assessed. Authorities with a dedicated integrity unit generally have a high level of capability and experience in planning and conducting misconduct investigations.

7. Common Use Arrangement for external investigators 

Appointment of contractors to the Common Use Arrangement (CUA) for external investigators includes some checks and balances relating to integrity checking. When engaging a contractor from the CUA, authorities generally did not implement any further integrity checking processes beyond the CUA checks.

Consultation with the Department of Finance has occurred to improve information provision and advice to authorities with regard to the CUA for external investigators.

 Our reports are available on the Reviews page of our website
 

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Page last updated 19 October 2017