Saturday, December 15, 2007

When Trust Fails 1 - Introduction

Corruption problems with the NSW Government owned RailCorp have been highlighted during a four week public hearing by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Corruption examples included a contracts relationship manager who manipulated the electronic procurement system to steal more than $A500,000; a second contracts scam is alleged to have cost the organisation more than $A4 million; while a third involved secret payments for work of more than $A1 million.

The current inquiry is one a series since 1992 that together suggest major systemic problems within the State owned corporation.

According to the barrister assisting the Commission, Chris Ronalds SC quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, the core problem lies in the organisation's culture:

The prevailing culture is one of indifference or possibly intimidation, with minimal attempt to investigate.

Where serious breaches of conduct have been exposed....the disciplinary tone has been a slap on the wrist. This approach breeds an entrenched culture of condonation of unethical behaviour, with various scams being able to be run by different people in silos, and a failure of internal system robustness, the culture of cover up is entrenched.

I do not pretend to be expert on RailCorp. However, I do find the case interesting as an example of what appears to be systemic failure. I also find it interesting because I had formed the view that that the approach to the control of corruption in NSW is fundamentally flawed and indeed creates its own problems.

Given this, I thought that it might be interesting to explore some of these issues in a series of irregular posts.

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