Victorian grift uncovered
A Victorian public servant has been found to have directed millions of dollars of work to his own company.
A corruption investigation has found “significant organisational failings” at the Department of Education and Training after an IT manager was able to funnel $14 million worth of work to his own company over a 13-year period.
The Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission's (IBAC) Operation Betka report found that the senior project manager engaged in “sales type” activities to “actively promote” his IT company to managers.
The project manager had a reputation as an “exceptional performer” and “go-to-guy”, according to the report, but was able to influence the hiring process and give staff at his company inside information about upcoming roles.
The investigation found serious failures of supervision at the department, allowing the project manager to benefit from his position for more than a decade.
“Operation Betka exposed significant organisational failings in how conflicts of interest were managed by the Department … and found the failures of those supervising this project manager were striking,” IBAC commissioner Robert Redlich QC said.
“Managers were aware of the project manager's conflict of interest, yet they failed to take meaningful steps to remove that conflict or to effectively manage his conduct.”
All contracts with the project manager's company were terminated in July 2016 after an internal audit regarding a possible overspend on a particular IT project.
The project manager verbally declared his conflict of interest to some managers, but did not declare his conflict of interest in writing.
IBAC did not find enough evidence to criminally charge the project manager, instead calling on the department to address issues with how it detects conflict of interest and strengthen its controls around hiring processes.
The Department of Education and Training says it is “committed to creating a culture of high standards and integrity”.
“The report acknowledges the department has undertaken significant reform to reshape the way the department manages procurement and conflicts of interest,” she said.