CCC calls for crack down on gifts to local government officers

Corruption and Crime Commission

Football games in Australia, cricket matches at Lord's Cricket Ground in England and rounds of golf in Dubai – these are just some of the gifts received by a former shire CEO from a company that was awarded lucrative IT contracts for the provision of management systems software.

A Corruption and Crime Commission investigation into the matter found the former CEO had personally signed-off on more than $1.2 million of IT software purchases without going to tender or seeking quotes from any other providers.

In light of its findings the Commission has urged the Government to significantly tighten the rules and called for changes to the WA Local Government Act to prevent the “receipt of gifts” by public officers.

“A legislative regime that endorses the receipt of gifts and contributions to travel in circumstances where a public officer is engaged in commercial dealings with the gift-giver requires rigorous review,” the report said.

“The receipt of gifts such as corporate box football tickets by public officers while conducting public business should be prohibited rather than be authorised by the applicable legislation.”

The report recommended that the Department of Local Government consider prosecuting the officer for failing to declare all the gifts he received in his annual return, as required by the Local Government Act.

The Commission also made three Opinions of Misconduct against the officer for breaching the trust placed in him as a public officer, including the obligation on public officers to act impartially, without bias or favour.

With the WA public sector currently spending around $4 billion a year on goods and services including $800 million – or one dollar in every five – on IT goods or services, the Commission’s report also aims to assist all government entities to identify critical risks and issues that can arise with the purchase of IT software.