news The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has ascertained that a former ICT manager at the University of Sydney carried out corrupt acts during his time at the institution.
The Commission found that, between February 2012 and July 2013, the individual engaged in “serious corrupt conduct” as a university official by giving preferential treatment to one company in his selection of the firm’s candidates to work as ICT contractors.
In its report on the matter, released this week, ICAC said the individual arranged for nine contractors from the company to be hired by the university.
“In each case, [the individual] arranged for the … contractors to be nominated through an accredited ICT contracts supplier,” ICAC said. “Once appointed, the performance of the … contractors was in some cases unsatisfactory, with some having their services terminated prematurely, or their contracts not renewed, due to their poor work performance.”
The Commission said it was satisfied that the individual knew was he required to comply with the ‘C100 scheme’ – a statewide procurement scheme that regulated how public sector agencies hired non-permanent staff. The scheme was replaced in April 2013.
According to ICAC, the University of Sydney had a requirement that all ICT contractors should be sourced through C100 companies, which the contracting company concerned was not.
The firm benefitted financially from its arrangement with the individual, who “demonstrated his favouritism” in various ways, said the Commission, including putting the contracting company in contact with C100 companies, making it appear that the firm’s candidates were directly contracted from C100 companies.
Further, the individual, who controlled the recruitment of ICT contractors at the university, took steps to hide the university’s use of the contracting company on official documentation because “he knew that it was contrary to university policy”.
The individual’s actions resulted in the contracting company receiving $1.6 million from the university, of which it kept approximately $800,000 profit, said ICAC. Under the standard contractual arrangement, the recruitment company would receive about 10% of the fee paid by the university, with the balance going to the contractor.
As part of the investigation, the Commission looked at whether or not the individual had received any rewards for favouring the contracting company, which was managed by a separate executive and his wife.
The Commission found that, while the evidence may suggest that cash payments were made, “there is no direct evidence that [the executive] did pay [the individual]”.
The Commission concluded that it could not establish to a high enough standard whether and how much financial benefit the individual may have received from the arrangement.
The ICAC said the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be sought over the potential prosecution of the executive for the offences of giving false or misleading evidence to the Commission and attempting to procure false evidence.
Since the related incidents occurred, ICAC said, a new whole-of-government labour hire process has been adopted, which bans subcontracting arrangements. Furthermore, the university has implemented measures to more tightly control its labour hire processes.
Under the circumstances, the Commission said, it “does not consider it necessary to make any recommendations concerning those matters”.