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As I highlighted in last week’s blog those agencies who recruit for governments at Federal, state and local levels have to deal with counter-productive contract terms, red tape, slow payments and onerous reporting requirements, amongst other frustrations.

A much lower profile risk, but a real risk nonetheless is the potential for inadvertent involvement in the corrupt recruitment practises of government hiring managers.

RCSA members are required to complete the training for the RCSA Code for Professional Conduct and, with respect to the topic of corrupt recruitment practises, pay special attention to the following section of the Code on page 5:

  1. Ascertain & Assure a) RCSA Members, appropriately to their size and circumstances: i) apply resources; and ii) establish and maintain controls to ascertain and assure themselves, to a reasonable standard of confidence, that they meet the requirements of the regulatory environment in which they operate.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in New South Wales and Victoria’s Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) both detail their specific areas of concern regarding public sector recruitment and selection practises:

To ensure the best person is selected, organisations need an impartial selection panel and accurate information about applicants’ skills, training and qualifications. Managing corruption risks around these activities requires a mix of tools and controls, some of which require longer-term efforts around general workplace culture and establishing a mechanism to report suspected corrupt conduct. (ICAC)

Recruitment and employment practices can be and have been particularly vulnerable to corruption risks.

In our investigations, we have seen several examples of managers failing to undertake levels of pre-employment screening and vetting commensurate with the levels of access and sensitivity of each position. We have also seen recruitment processes where clear conflicts of interest including favoritism, discrimination and nepotism have taken place. (IBAC)

The reality of these vulnerabilities is clearly seen from the inside as a recent survey by The Crime and Corruption Commission of 200,000 Queensland’s public servants makes clear.

About one-fifth of the 14,500 respondents, across 19 departments, said they had witnessed interference in recruitment processes for favoured applicants or the hiring of someone with personal or business connections without conflicts being declared.

The Northern Territory has contributed two recent examples of what constitutes inappropriate behaviour when it comes to recruitment.

Six weeks ago the NT Independent revealed three questionable recruitment services contracts awarded to Melbourne-based recruitment agency NGS Global after the initial procurement assessment of NGS’s tender on the “value for Territory” ranked them only fourth of seven tenderers.

The procurement panel was instigated by the head of the NT public service who also signed off on the final recommendation after her executives altered the scores and breached dozens of procurement rules.

The procurement process, run by the deputy chief executive of the Department of the Chief Minister and Cabinet and the director of governance, was deeply flawed according to a scathing report and that their decision to award the contract to NGS Global was “not defensible” due to non-existent documentation and the multiple breaches of established guidelines. No allegations have been made against NGS Global.

This week NT Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne is facing a committal hearing in a Darwin court over abuse of office charges having been accused of intervening in the recruitment process for the role of Assistant Children’s Commissioner to appoint long-time colleague and friend Laura Dewson.

Providing recruitment services to public sector departments and entities carries an additional duty of care as payment is made from money that is provided to that body with strings attached. Private sector companies, as long as they are not breaking any laws, do not have the same obligations.

As a recruiter or recruitment executive you would be well advised to undertake regular due diligence of recruitment processes you are running on behalf of publicly funded clients to ensure you are protecting yourself against allegations of aiding and abetting corrupt recruitment practises.

Better safe than sorry.

Related blogs 

Federal Government clueless (again) with latest recruitment tender 

Costly disputes with clients: how vulnerable are you?

Why a strong industry body creates a powerful industry

Please stop the PSA madness in Canberra – it’s a joke!

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