Fraud against the Commonwealth is defined as ‘dishonestly obtaining a benefit, or causing a loss, by deception or other means’. Fraud and corruption have the potential to damage the performance and reputation of Australian Government programs administered by the department.
The department takes very seriously the proper, efficient and ethical delivery of services and expenditure of public monies. In line with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework, it takes a risk-based approach to managing fraud and corruption, and has robust systems in place to prevent, detect and respond to instances of suspected fraud and corruption. Where possible, fraud risk controls are integrated with an overall general business risk approach, as described in the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy.
The department’s Fraud Control Plan outlines the department’s commitment to effectively manage fraud and corruption risks. It describes the key mechanisms used to address fraud and corruption risks and outlines how the department reports on fraud and corruption.
The department’s Fraud Control Strategy Statement outlines the department’s commitment to fraud control and the responsibilities all staff have to prevent, detect and respond to fraud and corruption.
The department’s Serious Non-Compliance and Investigations Unit (SNCIU) manages the department’s response to all allegations of internal and external fraud and corruption. The SNCIU works with program areas to strengthen policy and processes to prevent future incidents. When there is evidence of intent to defraud the Commonwealth, the department may refer a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) for consideration.
The department’s approach to managing fraud and corruption risks continues to mature through the development of robust governance frameworks and incident referral channels to streamline the way all staff engage with the SNCIU. This uniformity ensures all incidents of suspected or detected internal and external fraud and corruption, as well as incidents of unauthorised access to departmental systems, are effectively managed.
During 2018–19, the SNCIU referred one matter to the CDPP. Two matters referred by the SNCIU to the CDPP were prosecuted in 2018–19. Another two matters referred to the CDPP await finalisation of court proceedings.
In 2019–20, the SNCIU will continue to develop the department’s fraud prevention, detection and assurance capability. The Fraud Control Plan is currently being revised for release in 2020. The revised plan will focus on ensuring the department can respond effectively and efficiently to an evolving fraud landscape in which emerging fraud and corruption risks present new and complex challenges.
The SNCIU continues development of an integrity awareness training package to increase staff awareness of the core values of the department and of the APS, and to provide guidance on appropriate actions for individuals to take to ensure and maintain their integrity and professionalism as public servants. Increased integrity awareness will enable business areas to better mitigate risk through robust policy and program design.