More public servants are seeing corruption: APS survey

Public servants witnessing corruption in their agencies have nearly doubled compared to three years ago as the number of bureaucrats reporting cronyism and nepotism grew in a new survey.

The latest public service commission State of the Service report found 5 per cent of surveyed government staff said they had seen corrupt behaviour,a figure that has steadily risen since an initial survey in 2013-14 that found 2.6 per cent had witnessed it in their workplaces.

Agencies are investigating more public servants for behaving dishonestly than five years ago, as 333 came under scrutiny in code of conduct probes that found 287 had acted inappropriately.

The number of government staff investigated for not upholding APS values has also grown, and those found to have breached this part of the code have more than quadrupled from 84 in 2013-14 to 403 last year.

More public servants say they have witnessed corruption in their agency. Photo: Shutterstock

Fewer staff faced questioning for failing to avoid or disclose a conflict of interest, while those investigated for making improper use of inside information dropped and the number of public servants found in breach was steady at 64.

The n Public Service Commission said its findings showed government employees believed their workplaces upheld values of ethical behaviour and accountability.

“This suggests there is a strong culture of ethical behaviour in the APS,” the report said.

Of those saying they had seen corruption, 64 per cent reported cronyism in their agency, while nepotism (26 per cent) was another common complaint among public servants.

More than a fifth had witnessed ‘green-lighting’, when colleagues made official decisions that improperly favoured a person or company, or disadvantaged another.

ranked 13th in Transparency International’s index of perceived public sector corruption in 2016, down from ninth in 2013, as its score slipped slightly to 79 from 81 in that period. In 2012, the country scored 85.

A report released last month, led by one of the nation’s most respected former public servants Terry Moran, found most ns wanted a federal anti-corruption commission.

The n Public Service gave itself a clean bill of health last July, saying it did not want or need a new federal corruption-busting commission.

Transparency International told a parliamentary inquiry last year that the present anti-corruption efforts in the federal sphere were fragmented and full of gaps, saying there could be no serious case put forward against the establishment of a broad-based federal agency focused on the problem.

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