ICAC wants NSW public sector to improve employment screening practices

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has recommended that the NSW public sector adopt stronger screening practices to combat employment application fraud.

In a new report, ICAC refers to several investigations that examine the conduct to which undetected employment application fraud can lead. In 2016, ICAC found that Ronald Cordoba – who had an undetected fraud conviction – was appointed as acting ICT manager at TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute.

Once in the role, he made a corrupt profit of $1.14 million by overcharging for ICT project items. ICAC found that an agency hired Cordoba without contacting the listed referees.

“Had thorough reference checks been completed, it might have been discovered that the individual failed probation in a previous role, due to incompetence. The individual subsequently authorised over $300,000 worth of improper payments,” the ICAC report said.

ICAC launched a public inquiry a year earlier to examine allegations that during his time at TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute, Cordoba improperly raised purchase orders and authorised payments to a business he secretly owned.

The report recommended that agencies adopt an integrated approach to address employment application fraud. These measures include designing and implementing a risk-based employment screening framework, assigning roles and responsibilities for employment screening, improving the quality of screening checks and screening non-permanent workers such as contingent hires.

ICAC chief commissioner, Peter Hall, said the report notes that employment application fraud is common, and that between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of job applications contain some form of false information.

“The detrimental effects that poor employment screening practices have can be very wide reaching and put agencies at financial risk while impacting on the organisation’s ability to discharge its public service functions effectively and efficiently,” Hall said.

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