6 October 2020
Ms Joy Burch MLA
Legislative Assembly for the ACT
CANBERRA ACT 2600
I present to you my Annual Report as Inspector of the ACT Integrity Commission for 2019-20.
It has been prepared to fulfil the requirements of s 7A of the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act 2004.
I certify the Annual Report 2019-20 is an honest and accurate account of the work of the Inspector’s Office and that all material information on the operations of the Office has been included for the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.
As I am an Officer of the Legislative Assembly, this report is not subject to the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Directions 2019. Where relevant to my Office, Isought to include similar information in this report to that required under these directions.
Section 15 of the Annual Reports (Government Agencies) Act 2004 requires that you present a copy of the Annual Report to the Legislative Assembly within 15 weeks after the end of the reporting year.
Michael Manthorpe PSM
Inspector of the ACT Integrity Commission
Contacting the Inspector
Enquiries about this report or requests for other information should be directed to:
Commonwealth and ACT Ombudsman
If you would like further information about the Inspector:
|Post||GPO Box 442|
|CANBERRA ACT 2601|
|Telephone||(02) 6276 3773|
The Inspector Annual Report 2019-20 is available on the website.
Australian Capital Territory
Material presented in this report is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence which can be accessed here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ please attribute information in this Report as licensed from the ACT Ombudsman under a Creative Commons 4.0 licence.
Produced by the ACT Ombudsman, Canberra
Table of Contents
- Integrity Commission Annual Report1
- Transmittal Certificate2
- Review by the Inspector5
- Organisational overview6
- Performance analysis7
- Financial Management Reporting11
Review by the Inspector
I am pleased to introduce my inaugural annual report as Inspector of the ACT Integrity Commission.
The ACT Integrity Commission (the Commission) is an independent body with the power to investigate corruption in ACT Government. My role as Inspector, which commenced on 1 July 2019, provides independent oversight of the Commission to provide assurance that the Commission is acting within its powers and provides public confidence in government integrity. In addition to being the Inspector of the Commission, I am also the ACT Ombudsman.
This year my Office implemented arrangements to support my new role as Inspector. We developed policies and procedures, monthly reporting and information sharing arrangements with the Commission, as well as information for the ACT community about how to make a complaint about the Commission.
People can access information on how to make a complaint about the Commission, including our complaint handling policy, on the ACT Ombudsman website. They can make a complaint using our online form and also contact us directly through our ACT Ombudsman phone line.
The Commission’s focus in 2019-20 was on its operational set up and I appreciate the complexity of this task. I understand the Commission initially experienced delays and challenges in becoming fully operational and progressing its matters on hand.
It is crucial the Commission is sufficiently resourced to undertake its functions efficiently and effectively, and be able to maintain the independence and security of its activities.
I am pleased the Commission has made significant progress since commencing operations. It secured permanent premises, recruited staff, acquired secure information systems, is in the process of identifying suitable case management systems, developed relationship protocols with other oversight agencies, and developed policies and procedures for managing and investigating allegations of corrupt conduct. It also started implementing its corruption prevention and education strategy.
My Office has developed a productive and cooperative relationship with the Commission, and I appreciate the open and transparent manner in which the Commission provided information to my Office. I also met personally with both the Commissioner and the Commission’s Chief Executive Officer to discuss our roles and areas of mutual interest.
I look forward to a continued relationship with the Commission, while at the same time providing independent oversight of its functions.
Michael Manthorpe PSM
Role of the ACT Integrity Commission
The ACT Integrity Commission (the Commission) is established under the Integrity Commission Act 2018 (the Act) and commenced full operations on 1 December 2019. The Commission is an independent body with broad powers to:
- investigate alleged corruption in the ACT Government and public service
- refer suspected instances of criminality or wrongdoing to the appropriate authorities
- publish information about investigations publicly and conduct education programs
- strengthen public confidence in government integrity.
Role of the Inspector
The Inspector was set up to help improve public confidence and provide assurance that the Commission operates within its legislative powers. The Inspector’s main functions, as set out in Part 5 of the Act are to:
- assess and report on the Commission's compliance with the Act, including conducting an annual operation review
- receive, investigate and assess complaints about the Commission and its staff
- make recommendations to the Commission or public bodies about practices or procedures in relation to the Act
- receive monthly reports from the Commission relating to its operations
- undertake other functions as prescribed by law.
The Inspector has broad powers under s 228 of the Act to:
- investigate any aspect of the Commission’s operations or conduct of the commissioner or its staff
- have full access to records of the Commission
- require the Commission to provide information or produce documents
- refer matters to another public sector body or official
- recommend disciplinary action or criminal prosecution.
The ACT Ombudsman currently performs the role of Inspector in the ACT.
The role of the ACT Ombudsman is to influence systemic improvement in public administration in the ACT, as well as providing assurance that ACT government agencies and other designated entities that fall within our jurisdiction act with fairness and integrity. A copy of our organisational chart and the ACT Ombudsman 2019-20 Annual Report2 can be accessed on the ACT Ombudsman website.
Implementation of new Inspector role
In 2019-20, our Office focused on the development of policies to support the work of the Inspector. This included developing a complaint handling policy, internal complaint handling procedures and other procedures for Inspector staff, and personal interest guidelines for Inspector staff.
Complaint handling policy
The Inspector has powers under s 264(4) of the Act to make guidelines about how the Inspector is to handle complaints under the Act. These guidelines are embodied in the Inspector complaint handling policy, which was notified as an instrument on 4 July 2019. 3
The purpose of the complaint handling policy is to outline, at a high level, how the Inspector will receive and manage complaints about the Commission. It is designed to ensure that complaints are handled fairly, efficiently and effectively. A copy of the policy is also available on our website. 4
Internal standard operating procedures
Our Office developed internal standard operating procedures, to underpin the complaint handling policy. The procedures provide detailed advice for Inspector staff on how to receive, manage and investigate complaints about the Commission, including the process for answering and addressing phone calls related to the Inspector from the ACT Ombudsman phone line.
Declaration of interest guidelines/p>
The Inspector is required, under s 251(4) of the Act, to publish personal interest guidelines, which outline personal interests that Inspector staff are expected to declare.
Our Office recognises that challenges and risks may arise in relation to potential conflicts of interest for Inspector staff who are also Commonwealth public servants.5 We published guidelines which provide advice and ACT specific examples and impose additional requirements for staff to declare personal interests to ensure any potential conflicts of interest are managed effectively.
The declaration of interest guidelines were notified as an instrument on 4 July 2019 and are available on our website.6
5The ACT Ombudsman is also the Commonwealth Ombudsman and all staff are Commonwealth public servants by virtue of s 30(2)(b) of the Ombudsman Act 1989
Inspector information for the ACT community
This year our Office focused on strategies to inform ACT residents about the role of the Inspector.
We established a dedicated Inspector webpage on the ACT Ombudsman website.7 The webpage includes information about the Commission and the role of the Inspector. Our Office published a factsheet8, and developed an Inspector complaint form9, both of which are available on our website.
We also set up a dedicated telephone line for members of the public to contact the Inspector.
Our Office developed a productive and cooperative relationship with the Commission.The Inspector met with the Commissioner and the Commission’s Chief Executive Officer and we established regular liaison meetings to discuss operational issues and challenges.
The Inspector took opportunities to gain a better understanding of the role and the challenges it may present by meeting with the Parliamentary Inspector of the Western Australia Corruption and Crime Commission. The Inspector also attended the Conference of Inspectors and Parliamentary Commissioners in Melbourne in November 2019.
During 2019-20, Inspector staff worked with the Commission to develop:
- arrangements for the Commission to provide monthly reports to the Inspector under s 205 of the Act
- a relationship protocol with the Commission to assist both bodies to efficiently manage their respective statutory functions while avoiding delay or unnecessary duplication
- a draft memorandum of understanding with the Judicial Council to refer complaints about the conduct of ACT judicial officers between the two bodies (we expect to finalise this memorandum of understanding in early 2020-21)
- arrangements for the secure digital delivery and storage of protected and sensitive materials between the two bodies.
Any person can make a complaint to the Inspector about the Commission’s operations, action by Commission staff or inaction by Commission staff.
We understand the Commission initially experienced delays and challenges in becoming fully operational and progressing its matters on hand, which has no doubt impacted the number of complaints received by both the Commission and the Inspector.
The Inspector received one complaint about the Commission and two enquiries relating to its Inspector function during this reporting period.
Referrals to the Inspector
The Commission is required to refer corruption reports about its staff to the Inspector under s 105 of the Act.
No such referrals were received during 2019-20.
Mandatory reporting of Commission activities
The Commission is required to report to the Inspector on a monthly basis, as well as when certain actions occur. Consistent with the requirements of s 205 of the Act, the Inspector received seven monthly reports from the Commission in 2019-20 (noting full operations only commenced in December 2019).
Section 283requires the Inspector to report on certain statistics provided in these reports in this annual report, and other matters including the number and a description of:
- referrals made to or by the Inspector
- matters notified to the Inspector as part of the Commission’s monthly reporting under s 205
- complaints made to the Inspector
- investigations conducted by the Inspector
- recommendations made by the Inspector
- other information sharing entities to whom the Inspector has disclosed information
- Inspector special reports presented to the Legislative Assembly.
In 2019-20, the inspector received the following from the Commission:
- two confidentiality notices issued under s 78 (confidentiality notices for preliminary inquiries)
As noted above, the Inspector also received one complaint about the Commission which is being assessed.
Management of conflicts of interest
Under s 283(1)(e) of the Act, the Inspector must provide an assessment of how the Commissioner is managing conflicts of interest and comment on the number of times the Inspector inspected the Commission’s conflict of interest register.
The Inspector is satisfied the Commission has taken appropriate steps to manage conflicts of interest.
The Inspector viewed the Commission’s draft Conflicts of Interest Policy and Procedure which sets out:
- key principles
- how actual or perceived conflicts should be managed
- the responsibility of managers and staff
- detailed procedures for mitigating and disclosing conflicts of interest.
Commission investigations are conducted in accordance with the Commission’s draft code of conduct. The Commission expects to finalise its code of conduct in early 2020-21.
The Inspector also viewed a copy of the Commission’s conflict of interest register on one occasion in the reporting period. The register records:
- the name of the Commission staff member
- the nature of any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest
- the relationship of those interests to the Commission’s activities or proposed activities
- date declared
- how the conflict was reported and to whom.
Annual operational review report
A copy of the Inspector’s annual operational review report is attached to this report at Appendix 1 as required under s 283(3) of the Act. This report assesses the Commission’s compliance with the Act for 2019-20.
As the Commission did not commence full operations until 1 December 2019, it is too early in the life of the Commission for the Inspector to comment on matters or make recommendations, including recommendations for changes to territory laws or for administrative action. The Commission has identified areas where the Act could be amended to clarify its powers or address gaps in the legislation.We understand the Commission raised these matters with the ACT Government.
Financial Management Reporting
In accordance with the Service Agreement between the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the ACT Government, the Office was provided with $96,000 for the 2019-20 financial year to implement and perform functions as the Inspector of the ACT Integrity Commission.