1.4 Oversight agencies
In addition to the Public Service Commissioner, thereare other office holders and bodies, established bylegislation, with special responsibilities to protect andpreserve the public interest.
This section provides information about four of thestatutory integrity bodies.
The NSW Ombudsman helps agencies within hisor her jurisdiction to address problems with theirperformance. These problems may be uncovered bycomplaints from the public or by people who workfor those agencies. Problems may also come to theOmbudsman’s attention through work in scrutinisingagency systems, overseeing investigations or reviewingthe delivery of services.
The Ombudsman is responsible for keeping thefollowing types of organisations under scrutiny:
- agencies delivering public services – including police, correctional centres and state-owned corporations
- organisations delivering services to children – including schools and child-care centres
- organisations delivering community services – including services for people with disabilities, people who are homeless and elderly people
- agencies conducting covert operations – including the Crime Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The Ombudsman has other specific functions thatrelate to:
- the causes and patterns of deaths of children and people with disabilities in care
- child protection in relation to how allegations of reportable conduct and reportable convictions are dealt with by designated government agencies
- decisions made by public sector agencies
- public interest disclosures (including the provision of guidance and advice)
- the administration of the Official Community Visitors scheme
- the administration of the witness protection program
- the implementation of new pieces of legislation conferring additional powers on police.
For more information and contact details for the officeof the NSW Ombudsman, see www.ombo.nsw.gov.au.
Independent CommissionAgainst Corruption
The Independent Commission Against Corruption(ICAC) was established by the NSW Government in 1989in response to growing community concern about theintegrity of public administration in NSW.
The ICAC’s principal functions are set out in theIndependent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988. In summary, they are:
- to investigate and expose corrupt conduct in the NSW public sector
- to actively prevent corruption through advice and assistance, and
- to educate the NSW community and public sector about corruption and its effects.
The ICAC works to minimise corruption by providingadvice, information, resources and training to publicsector organisations to remedy existing or potentialcorruption problems, and helps organisations toidentify and deal with significant corruption risks. TheICAC also educates the NSW community and publicsector about corruption and its effects.
Enquiries and reports regarding suspected corruptconduct (including public interest disclosures) canbe made to the ICAC by a range of means, includingthrough the ICAC’s online corruption report form.
For more information and contact details for the ICAC,see www.icac.nsw.gov.au.
Audit Office of NSW
The Audit Office of New South Wales is a statutoryauthority, established under the Public Finance andAudit Act 1983, that conducts audits for the Auditor-General. The Auditor-General helps parliament holdgovernment accountable for its use of public resources.
The Auditor-General is responsible for audits andrelated services. The Audit Office conducts financial andperformance audits, principally under the Public Financeand Audit Act 1983 and the Corporations Act 2001.
Financial audits provide an independent opinion onNSW Government agencies’ financial statements. Theyidentify whether agencies comply with accountingstandards and relevant laws, regulations andgovernment directions. Financial audits are designed toadd credibility to financial statements, enhancing theirvalue to end-users. Also, the existence of such auditsprovides a constant stimulus to agencies to ensuresound financial management.
Performance audits build on our financial auditsby reviewing whether taxpayers’ money is spentefficiently, effectively, economically and in accordancewith the law. These audits may review all or part of anagency’s operations. Some audits consider particularissues across a number of agencies.
The Audit Office also examines allegations of seriousand substantial waste of public money under thePublic Interest Disclosures Act 1994. Serious andsubstantial waste refers to the uneconomical,inefficient or ineffective use of resources, authorised orunauthorised, which results in a loss/wastage of publicfunds/resources.
For more information and contact details for the AuditOffice, see www.audit.nsw.gov.au.
Information and PrivacyCommission NSW
The Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) is anindependent statutory authority that administers NewSouth Wales legislation dealing with privacy and accessto government information.
The IPC reviews the performance and decisions ofagencies and investigates and conciliates complaintsrelating to public sector agencies, health serviceproviders (both public and private) and some largeorganisations that deal with health information. TheIPC also provides feedback about the legislation andrelevant developments in the law and technology.
The Privacy Commissioner’s role is to resolvecomplaints, protect and enhance the privacy rightsof the NSW community and ensure agencies upholdthe privacy principles in the Privacy and PersonalInformation Protection Act 1998 and the Health Recordsand Information Privacy Act 2002.
The Information Commissioner’s role is to promotepublic awareness and understanding of the right toaccess government information in NSW, and provideinformation, support, advice, assistance and trainingto agencies and the general public. The InformationCommissioner has the power to review decisions madeby other NSW government agencies and deal withcomplaints about information access. The InformationCommissioner can investigate agencies and compelthem to provide information in the conduct of inquiries.
For more information and contact details for theInformation and Privacy Commission,see www.ipc.nsw.gov.au.
Police Integrity Commission
The Police Integrity Commission was established todetect, investigate and prevent police misconduct,and misconduct by administrative officers of theNSW Police Force and officers of the NSW CrimeCommission. For more information and contact detailssee www.pic.nsw.gov.au.
Health Care ComplaintsCommission
The Health Care Complaints Commission acts to protectpublic health and safety by resolving, investigating andprosecuting complaints about health care practitionersand organisations. For more information and contactdetails see www.hccc.nsw.gov.au.