Momentum building for improved screening in NSW government
Recently NSW’s ICAC, an anti-corruption initiative, has recognised the key role that employment screening plays in curbing corruption and helping to shape an environment less prone to corruption. Government News reported the story earlier this year, and our sense is that the momentum is building in favour of screening best practice.
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has recommended to the State Government that it adopt stronger employment screening practices. It says that this will help combat employment application fraud, which if left undetected can ultimately allow other corrupt conduct to occur.
ICAC Chief Commissioner Peter Hall said that employment application fraud is common in NSW, and that between 20 and 30 percent of government job applications contain false information.
“The detrimental effects that poor employment screening practices have can be very wide reaching,” he said. This puts agencies at financial risk and impacts upon their ability to discharge their public service functions efficiently and effectively.
The recommendations are contained in a new ICAC report, ‘Strengthening employment screening practices in the NSW public sector’. The report refers to a number of its published investigations that examine the conduct arising from undetected employment application fraud.
These include gaining improper financial benefits. It gives the example of ‘Operation Sonet’, which resulted in an individual with an undetected fraud conviction making a corrupt profit of $1.14 million after being appointed acting IC) manager and then overcharging for ICT project items.
“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, said Mr Hall. “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.”