Recommendations for corruption prevention and updates

The ICAC has made the following 31 corruption prevention recommendations; some of these recommendations are to Burwood Council, while others are made to the NSW Government to help improve systems in local government across the state:

Recommendation 1

That Burwood Council develops a policy for the payment of appropriate out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the General Manager and Council employees. Such a policy should incorporate the provisions of the NSW Government Expenses Policy. 

Recommendation 2

That Burwood Council's out-of-pocket expenses policy for staff and the General Manager includes protocols for the approval of out-of-pocket expenditure. The protocols should explicitly prohibit the General Manager or any other Council employee from approving expenses where there is an actual or perceived personal benefit derived from the expenditure. The protocol should also provide that the Mayor must approve the expense claims of the General Manager. 

Recommendation 3

That Burwood Council modifies its Councillor Expenses and Facilities Policy to require the payment of expenses and the provision of facilities to Councillors only where specifically provided for in the Policy. 

Recommendation 4

That Burwood Council modifies the Councillor Expenses and Facilities Policy to require the approval of significant Councillor expenses and facilities, where possible, at a full Council meeting. Where approval at a full Council meeting is not possible or appropriate then approval should be given jointly by the Mayor and the General Manager. If the Mayor requires approval, it should be given jointly by the Deputy Mayor or another Councillor and the General Manager.

Recommendation 5

That Burwood Council aligns its Motor Vehicle Management Policy to reflect key areas of NSW state government policy and practice, including preference for leasing, cars not exceeding the luxury car tax threshold, procedures for disposal and appropriate treatment of optional accessories.

Recommendation 6

That contracts and remuneration packages for the General Manager and senior staff at Burwood Council comply with the Council's Motor Vehicle Management Policy.

Recommendation 7

That the NSW Division of Local Government be given the authority through legislative amendment to require councils in NSW to adopt policy and practice considered to be of state-wide significance by the Division's Chief Executive. This amendment should include an appeal mechanism to the Chief Executive for councils seeking specific dispensation.

Recommendation 8

That non-compliance with the requirement for adoption of policy (as described in recommendation 7) be dealt with as a discipline issue for relevant council administrative officers under the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW.

Recommendation 9

That the NSW Division of Local Government reviews all circulars and pronouncements by the Department of Premier and Cabinet for issues of relevance to NSW local councils and issues guidelines to councils accordingly.

Recommendation 10

That the NSW Minister for Local Government seeks legislative amendment to the Local Government Act 1993 to establish internal audit for local authorities as a statutory function.

Recommendation 11

That Burwood Council establishes an internal audit function with an independent internal audit committee as a matter of priority. This committee should be chaired by a person independent of the Council.

Recommendation 12

That the elected body of Burwood Council receives regular updates on the outcome of internal audits.

Recommendation 13

That the NSW Minister for Local Government seeks legislative amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 to require general managers to report to the elected council a decision to dismiss an internal auditor and the reasons for the decision.

Recommendation 14

That the NSW Minister for Local Government seeks legislative amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 to provide internal auditors unfettered access to all documents and any council staff they deem necessary for the conduct of their role.

Recommendation 15

That the NSW Minister for Local Government amends Part 9.2(d) of the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW to allow councillors to provide information to an internal auditor on any matter related to council business.

Recommendation 16

That the NSW Minister for Local Government seeks legislative amendment of section 376(2) of the Local Government Act 1993 to remove the automatic entitlement of a general manager to attend an audit committee meeting.

Recommendation 17

That Burwood Council's internal audit function monitors compliance with the Councillor Expenses and Facilities Policy as part of its oversight role.

Recommendation 18

That Burwood Council's internal audit function monitors compliance with Council's (foreshadowed) policy for the payment of out-of-pocket expenses to the General Manager and staff.

Recommendation 19

That Burwood Council's internal audit function monitors compliance with Council's system for allocating work to legal practitioners.

Recommendation 20

That Burwood Council's internal audit function conducts audits of the authorisation, certification and approval processes for expenditure that is unusual by its nature or its infrequency.

Recommendation 21

That Burwood Council amends its Code of Conduct and the Employee's Handbook to clearly prescribe that all complaints concerning the General Manager be referred to the Mayor in the first instance. If the Mayor is also implicated, the complaint should be referred to the NSW Division of Local Government.

Recommendation 22

That Burwood Council policies be amended to prohibit the General Manager from having any involvement or giving directions to staff in relation to any formal or informal complaints where he/she is the subject of the complaint. This recommendation does not prohibit the General Manager from providing information or a statement as part of the investigation process.

Recommendation 23

That Burwood Council amends its Internal Reporting System to include an officer's line manager/supervisor as a designated officer to whom a protected disclosure can be made. All officers to whom a protected disclosure can be made under the policy should receive training on how they should deal with a protected disclosure.

Recommendation 24

That Burwood Council ensures that the handling and investigation of complaints about the General Manager are overseen by the Mayor and conducted by investigators who are independent of the Council.

Recommendation 25

That Burwood Council develops a suspension policy for all Council staff aligned to the intention and effect of Premier and Cabinet guidelines for the NSW public sector, as espoused in Premier's Memorandum 94/35.

Recommendation 26

That the Chief Executive of the NSW Division of Local Government amends the Standard contract for the employment of general managers to include specific provision for a council to suspend the general manager from duty on a reasonable apprehension that he/she has engaged in corrupt conduct or serious misconduct.

Recommendation 27

That Part 3 of the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW be amended to improve the guidance provided to mayors in managing complaints against a general manager. In particular, guidance should be provided about the consideration of the suspension of the general manager in appropriate cases. A duty should also be placed on the mayor to monitor decisions and actions of the general manager and other council officers for possible detrimental action against staff or contractors who have provided information about alleged misconduct.

Recommendation 28

That the NSW Division of Local Government endorses a core package of information for trainers to deliver to councillors. The package should be tailored to the needs of new and existing councillors.

Recommendation 29

That all NSW councillors undertake a foundation education and training program endorsed by the NSW Division of Local Government, at a minimum of once per term.

Recommendation 30

That all current Burwood Council Councillors undertake a foundation education and training program endorsed by the NSW Division of Local Government as a matter of priority.

Recommendation 31

That the NSW Division of Local Government promotes its capacity to provide information and assistance to councillors in the discharge of their role.

Implementation Plans

The implementation plans posted below have been provided by Burwood Council and the NSW Division of Local Government in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Their appearance here is for information only and does not constitute the approval or endorsement of the plan by the Commission.

Burwood Council - Implementation plan

NSW Division of Local Government - Implementation plan

12 month progress report

The progress report posted below has been provided by NSW Division of Local Government in response to the ICAC's corruption prevention recommendations. Its appearance here is for information only and does not constitute the approval or endorsement of the report by the Commission.

NSW Division of Local Government - Progress report

 

ImHuman