Victorian councils play a pivotal role in providing and maintaining a wide range of services, programs and infrastructure for their communities. With responsibility for the management of community infrastructure worth approximately $90 billion and delivery of more than $7 billion in critical public services every year, councils spend between 45 per cent and 60 per cent of their annual budgets on procurement. Considerable power is therefore vested in public officers of councils to source suppliers, manage contracts and authorise payment for goods, services and works – using public money.
The Victorian community rightly expects that council employees will perform their duties with integrity and impartiality, and will act in the public interest rather than their own. When funds allocated to council are misappropriated, this is understandably a cause for significant concern.
Allegations of corruption associated with procurement have been a recurring feature of complaints received and investigations conducted by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), as well as other Victorian and interstate integrity agencies.
This report presents specific findings from two investigations by IBAC into allegations of corrupt conduct involving procurement in the Victorian local government sector – namely Operations Dorset and Royston – and discusses general conclusions that may be drawn from these and a number of other investigations. In particular, the report highlights vulnerabilities in council policies, practices and systems that contributed to the conduct, and raises concerns about procurement procedures and controls in the local government sector more broadly.