Monday, 15 December 2008

RailCorp corruption 'extraordinary'

The role of the NSW Minister for Transport, and the RailCorp CEO and board, must be reviewed to "better ensure financially responsible management that would limit the opportunity for corruption", says a damning report released today by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The ICAC today made 40 recommendations to combat the corruption that has stripped RailCorp of more than $21 million in improperly awarded contracts and kickbacks to staff in just three years.

"The very structure of the organisation and the way it operates allows and encourages corruption," ICAC commissioner Jerrold Cripps, QC, said in the report.

"The investigation has exposed an extraordinary extent of public sector corruption," the report said.

"The investigation and findings entitle the commission to infer that the type of corruption exposed extends beyond those individuals identified in this investigation."

An ICAC statement released with the report says the very structure of the organisation allowed graft and fraud to flourish.

"The report describes record-keeping at RailCorp as shambolic and says that its form of contracting, process design, reporting arrangements, management competence, culture and oversight arrangements all contribute to endemic corruption in the organisation."

ICAC's eighth and final report on its Investigation Into Bribery And Fraud at RailCorp says the investigation "exposed an extraordinary extent of public sector corruption".

"Corrupt employees appeared to be confident that they would not be caught or if they were, that not much would happen to them," the report said.

In the seven reports that ICAC has released so far, it has recommended more than 660 charges against 33 rail staff members and contractors. It made 97 findings of corruption against 31 people.

After two years of investigation and nine weeks of hearings, the RailCorp inquiry is the biggest since ICAC was formed in 1988.

It followed six other inquiries into the NSW railways since 1992.

A major investigation 10 years ago focused on the same areas of procurement, maintenance and plant hire that formed the core of the current investigation.

But the corruption prevention mechanisms established as a result did nothing to prevent the same unethical behaviour from staff. It also appears to have failed to limit relationships forming between private contractors and the staff who sign off on sometimes lucrative contracts.

[Sources say] senior Government officials have been working on a formal response by cabinet for some months.

The last time there was a major inquiry into RailCorp was in the wake of the Waterfall derailment. In the fall-out from the McInerney report into the accident, two senior staff were axed, but the guillotine never fell on another six who were under review.

"Ultimately, responsibility for preventing corruption in this critical public organisation is shared by RailCorp's chief executive officer, the RailCorp board and the Minister for Transport," the statement says.

"It is incumbent on them to break with past practices and improve oversight and action regarding corruption prevention.

"The commission recommends that the responsibilities of the proposed RailCorp Advisory Board, the RailCorp CEO and the Minister for Transport be reviewed to determine whether they need to be restructured to better ensure financially responsible management that would limit the opportunity for corruption."

Quote: When will the ICAC investigate rorts into Housing New South Wales? Most residents could inform the ICAC of some of the already known contractors who have very lucrative contracts that are endlessly repairing things that endlessly break - instead of fixing things properly and more permanently like, excessive fire services, checks and balances. Sending five people a year to check on 5 different things and automatic doors which break sometimes four or five times per week - doors that could be made less automatic and that don't break so many times every week.


Rail rorts: ICAC recommends charges
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found another four RailCorp employees received large cash payments for awarding work to favoured contractors

Something is rotten in the state of NSW
IN 1998 the lid was lifted on the corrupt world of NSW railways, revealing that supplying prostitutes could win you a contract, fake medical certificates signed by a dead doctor would get you a day off work, and you could claim overtime while playing golf.

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