WA corruption and fraud controls in the crosshairs

By Julian Bajkowski

A performance probe of how well the Western Australian public sector has instigated measures to prevent fraud and corruption has found all nine of the agencies examined by the state Auditor lack a “coordinated approach” and that none had yet developed “control plan” to nip illegal behaviour in the bud.

The report from WA Auditor General Colin Murphy found that while seven of the nine agencies looked into “have experienced fraud or corruption in recent years” more work has to be done by the bureaucracy to bring corruption controls up to standard.

The WA agencies put under the corruption management microscope were: the Department of Transport, Insurance Commission of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Polytechnic West, Rottnest Island, Authority, Water Corporation, Western Australian Institute of Sport, Western Australian Land Authority, Wheatbelt Development Commission.

In school report terms Mr Murphy found that agencies across the board could do better.

“While all the agencies had well-established risk management processes, only two had specifically considered the risk of fraud and corruption through this process,” the Auditor’s report said.

“We noted that none of the agencies had a fraud and corruption control plan, although two of the agencies had started to develop a plan.”

The intensified focus on weeding out the potential for corruption comes as concern grows within law enforcement and regulatory authorities that graft and theft are on the rise in the West.

“The incidence of fraud and corruption in government agencies appears to be on the increase. The Western Australian Police and the Corruption and Crime Commission have advised us of their concern at the number of reported allegations involving government agencies,” the Auditor’s report said.

“In 2012, the WA police raised concerns with the Auditor General about the level of public sector fraud incidents, which indicated that agencies’ approaches to minimising fraud and corruption were not effective.”

Local governments including the City of Canning in Perth and the Shire of Ashburton  have also featured prominently as examples of poor governance over the past year that have attracted ministerial intervention.

Mr Murphy said reported that all of the agencies he audited “could strengthen their prevention and detection programs.”

However he noted that “where incidents of fraud or corruption had occurred, agencies had responded appropriately, but could do more to strengthen controls based on lessons learnt.”

The Audit also found that even though “all agencies identify and assess risks as part of their organisational risk management processes … seven agencies had not considered the specific risk of fraud or corruption through this process.”

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