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Australia

National Integrity Framework (AU0012)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Australia National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Attorney-General’s Department (anticorruption@ag.gov.au)

Support Institution(s): ACLEI, Australian Federal Police, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Industry, peak bodies (including Law Council of Australia) non-government organisations (including Australian Open Government Partnership Network) and international partners

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption Institutions, Legislation & Regulation, OGP, Private Sector, Public Participation, Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Australia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective and description: Australia will strengthen its ability to prevent, detect and respond to corruption in the public sector. We will do this in collaboration with the corporate sector, non-government organisations, academia and the public, including by holding the first Government Business Roundtable on Anti-Corruption in 2017. We will review the jurisdiction and capabilities of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP)-led Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre (FACC) with the development of each National Action Plan to ensure they can focus on protecting Commonwealth agencies from risks of corruption. Status Quo: The Australian Government takes tackling corruption seriously. We have strong laws and a robust, multi-agency approach to combating corruption, under which a range of agencies play a role in preventing, detecting and responding to corruption (an approach the Government believes is preferable to creating an entirely new anti-corruption agency). Key agencies responsible for responding to public sector corruption include: ACLEI, which is responsible for preventing, detecting and investigating corruption within the high-risk agencies within its jurisdiction. The AFP-hosted FACC, which brings together a range of Commonwealth agencies to respond to serious fraud and corruption matters, including across Commonwealth services, programmes and employees. The Government provided an additional $15 million to the FACC in April 2016. In 2012, Australia was found fully compliant following a review of our implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Our next review under UNCAC is scheduled to occur in 2017-18. ACLEI’s jurisdiction was reviewed earlier this year by the Joint Committee on the ACLEI. The Committee recommended the Government extend ACLEI’s jurisdiction to include the entire Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and examine the feasibility of including the Australian Taxation Office. The Government is considering the recommendations. Ambition: To aim to improve Australia’s score on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index by strengthening the Australian Government’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to bribery and corruption, and better communicating our national integrity framework. To achieve this, we will consult closely with industry, non-government organisations, academia and the public to ensure that our laws, policies and frameworks for responding to corruption are effective, including through holding the first Government Business Roundtable on Anti-Corruption in 2017. We will strengthen the national integrity framework as it applies to the public sector. This will include reviewing the jurisdiction and capabilities of ACLEI and FACC every two years with the development of Australia’s National Action Plans under OGP, and extending these on an as-needs basis. We will also improve whistle-blower protections (see commitment 1.1). Relevance: This commitment will advance the OGP values of public accountability by: improving the effectiveness of our legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks; and protecting the integrity and transparency of the execution of public policy and management. COMMITMENT DETAILS; OGP Grand Challenge: Increasing Public Integrity; Timeframes 2016 – July 2018; Lead agency Attorney-General’s Department (anticorruption@ag.gov.au); Other actors involved; Government: ACLEI, Australian Federal Police, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Non-government: Industry, peak bodies (including Law Council of Australia) non-government organisations (including Australian Open Government Partnership Network) and international partners

IRM Midterm Status Summary

12. National Integrity Framework

Commitment Text:

Australia will strengthen its ability to prevent, detect and respond to corruption in the public sector.

We will do this in collaboration with the corporate sector, non-government organisations, academia and the public, including by holding the first Government Business Roundtable on Anti-Corruption in 2017.

We will review the jurisdiction and capabilities of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP)-led Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre (FACC) with the development of each National Action Plan to ensure they can focus on protecting Commonwealth agencies from risks of corruption.

[…]

Milestones:

  1. Respond to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on ACLEI’s inquiry into the jurisdiction of ACLEI.
  2. Hold the first Government Business Roundtable on Anti-Corruption, to improve cooperation and consultation on anti-corruption work, and identify areas for reform.
  3. Respond to recommendations for reform and improvement arising from the Roundtable.
  4. Review the jurisdiction and capabilities of ACLEI and FACC in consultation with the public in the context of developing Australia’s second National Action Plan.

Responsible institution: Attorney-General’s Department

Supporting institution(s): ACLEI, Australian Federal Police, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. See the national action plan for a full list.

Start date: 2016 End date: July 2018

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text, see the Australia National Action Plan available at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Australia_NAP_201...

Context and Objectives

This commitment seeks to reduce corruption in the Commonwealth public sector. The government has committed to responding to previous recommendations and conducting a review of bodies that currently have investigation and enforcement powers in this area, as well as consulting with business over other steps that can be taken.

All Australian States and the Northern Territory have a broad based anti-corruption agency which has jurisdiction over public officials, has coercive powers, is overseen by a Parliamentary committee, and mostly has investigative, preventative and educational functions.[1] A key theme in their establishment has been to combat the practice or perception of corruption as a way to restore and maintain public trust in government institutions.

Public sector corruption at the Commonwealth level is regulated through a 'Multi-agency framework'.[2] These include at least eight different agencies, from the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), which monitors other law enforcement agencies including the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the immigration and customs officials; to the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre (FACC), led by the AFP, which includes officials from a number of law enforcement agencies in an effort to coordinate and provide specialised expertise to tackle complex fraud and corruption. The Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet (PM&C) is also involved in addressing corruption risks through applying the Ministerial Code of Conduct and the Lobbying Code of Conduct.

In its interim report, the Senate Select Committee on a National Integrity Commission identified major concerns regarding the adequacy of the current system at the Commonwealth level: It should not be assumed that the Commonwealth public sector is less prone to corruption; that there has been several high-profile instances of corruption; and that the multi-agency approach has its flaws including uncoordinated development, fragmentary and ill-defined nature, and a lack of resources.[3] The Senate Select Committee also concluded that the current framework resulted in a 'complex and poorly understood system that can be opaque, difficult to access and challenging to navigate, particularly for complainants unfamiliar with the Commonwealth public sector and its processes more broadly.'[4] It recommended that the framework be strengthened to make it more coherent, comprehensible and accessible, and that consideration be given to establishing a new commonwealth agency with broad scope and jurisdiction to address integrity and corruption matters.[5]

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on the ACLEI, in its 2016 inquiry into the jurisdiction of the ACLEI recommended extending ACLEI’s jurisdiction to include the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, holding an independent assessment of the Australian Taxation Office within ACLEI’s jurisdiction, and considering transferring responsibility for the assessment of maritime and aviation identification cards to an agency within ACLEI’s jurisdiction. However, the Joint Committee did not recommend any wholesale increase in ACLEI’s jurisdiction, preferring ACLEI’s current focus on agencies with law enforcement functions.[6]

The commitment in milestones 12.1 and 12.4 relate to reforming the jurisdiction of the ACLEI and FACC. They are of medium specificity given they will involve government responding to each of the recommendations of the Joint Committee and conducting a review to consider further changes. Implementing the recommendations is likely to involve extending the jurisdiction of ACLEI, improving the degree of oversight or potential to investigate corruption within the government agencies involved. It is not clear what form any further review might take. In submissions to the various Senate and Joint Committees and in interviews for this report, Transparency International Australia were critical of the limited impact of the recommendations of the Joint Committee and advocated for any further review to consider the details of the establishment of a federal anti-corruption agency.[7]

Milestones 12.2 provides for the first Government Business Roundtable on Anti-Corruption. It does not provide information about what form the roundtable will take, who will take part in the discussion or the scope of considerations. Milestone 12.3 provides for a response to the recommendations of the roundtable without any details on what form the response might take. These are therefore of low specificity. In interviews in preparing this report, it was considered that the roundtable discussions were likely to be of more relevance to Commitment 1.4 and regulation of corrupt conduct by corporations than to regulating public sector corruption at the federal level in Australia.[8] In the context of reforming the institutions involved with regulating public sector corruption in Australia these milestones were likely to have only minor potential impact.

Completion

Milestone 12.1: This milestone is delayed and with no evidence of more than limited progress being publically available as of 1 July 2017. At the time of writing, the government has not responded to the Joint Committee Report. Interviews with the Attorney General’s Department indicate that the delay is in part due to the need to resolve the implications for the jurisdiction of ACLEI associated with the creation of a new Home Affairs portfolio combining Australia’s immigration, border protection and domestic security agencies.[9]

Milestone 12.2: This milestone was fully implemented. The Government Business Roundtable was held on 31 March 2017. Interviews with participants in the roundtables considered that they were focused on industry groups and private sector views, but did include broader civil society representatives.[10] Greg Thompson from Transparency International, considered that the roundtable was primarily focused on regulation of the non-government sector.[11] The wide range of different initiatives around corruption meant that it was difficult for CSOs with an interest in this area to effectively engage in all aspects of the consultation. The fragmentation made it difficult to establish priorities and to ensure the coherence of the various measures was being maintained.

Milestone 12.3: This milestone was not completed during the period of implementation reported on in this report. There was no evidence of more than limited progress being publicly available as of the end of August 2017 as set out in the timeframe for the milestone. No feedback or other results from the roundtable have been made public. The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Corporate Crime) Bill 2017, which includes amendments to address bribery of foreign officials and introduction of a deferred prosecution agreement scheme that were discussed at the Roundtables, was introduced into Parliament on 6 December 2017. This Bill will be discussed further in the end-of-term report.

Milestone12.4: The general review of the jurisdiction and capabilities of ACLEI and FACC had not formally commenced at the time of writing.

Early Results (if any)

There were no early results available during the implementation period reviewed by this report.

Next Steps

In fulfilment of milestone 12.2, government should consider making public the recommendations from the roundtable discussions and the government response combined with the various elements of commitment 4 in consulting further on anti-corruption measures involving corporate regulation. The general review of ACLEI and FACC could be expanded in the next national action plan to encompass a collaborative approach to investigating the establishment of a single federal anti-corruption agency with a broad based jurisdiction.


[1] Senate Select Committee on the Establishment of a National Integrity Commission, Interim Report, May 2016, p 6 (‘Interim Report’), https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Establishment_of_a_National_Integrity_Commission/NIC/Interim_Report.

[2] Senate Committee on a National Integrity Commission, Report, September 2017 at p 7 (‘Report’), https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/National_Integrity_Commission/IntegrityCommissionSen/Report.

[3] Interim Report at p 21-27.

[4] Report at p 218.

[5] Report at p 218.

[6] Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, Inquiry into the jurisdiction of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, May 2016, at p. 37, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Australian_Commission_for_Law_Enforcement_Integrity/Jurisdiction_of_ACLEI/Report.

[7] Submissions to the Joint Committee inquiry, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Australian_Commission_for_Law_Enforcement_Integrity/Jurisdiction_of_ACLEI/Submissions; and to the Senate Committee, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/National_Integrity_Commission/IntegrityCommissionSen/Submissions; Interviews with Professor AJ Brown, Griffith University and Director, Transparency International, Phone meeting, 1 September 2017; Greg Thompson, Board Member, Transparency International Australia, Phone meeting, 5 September 2017.

[8] Interviews with Professor AJ Brown, Griffith University and Director, Transparency International, Phone meeting, 1 September 2017; Greg Thompson, Board Member Transparency International Australia, Phone meeting, 5 September 2017.

[10] Interview with Greg Thompson, Board Member Transparency International Australia, Phone meeting, 5 September 2017; Jessie Cato, National Coordinator, Publish What You Pay Australia, Melbourne, Vic, 24 August 2017.

[11] Interview with Greg Thompson, Board Member Transparency International Australia, Phone meeting, 5 September 2017.


Australia's Commitments

  1. Strengthen anti-corruption framework

    AU0016, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  2. Political Donation Transparency

    AU0017, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  3. Data sharing

    AU0018, 2018, E-Government

  4. Improve Public Service Practice

    AU0019, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Access to Information

    AU0020, 2018, OGP

  6. Enhance public engagement skills in the public service

    AU0021, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service

    AU0022, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Expand open contracting

    AU0023, 2018, E-Government

  9. Whiste-blower Protections

    AU0001, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  10. Beneficial ownership transparency

    AU0002, 2016, Beneficial Ownership

  11. Extractive industries transparency

    AU0003, 2016, Beneficial Ownership

  12. Combating corporate crime

    AU0004, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  13. Data Innovation

    AU0005, 2016, E-Government

  14. Public Trust in Data Sharing

    AU0006, 2016, Capacity Building

  15. Digitization of Government Services

    AU0007, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Information Management and Access Laws

    AU0008, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Freedom of Information

    AU0009, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Access to Government Data

    AU0010, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Electoral System and Political Parties

    AU0011, 2016, Public Participation

  20. National Integrity Framework

    AU0012, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  21. Open Contracting

    AU0013, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. OGP NAP

    AU0014, 2016, OGP

  23. Public Participation

    AU0015, 2016, Capacity Building